Oral argument was heard in this case before law students at the University of Tennessee College of Law as a part of the
Court’s annual Docket Day at the College.
IN THE COURT OF APPEALS OF TENNESSEE
February 6, 2008 Session at the University of Tennessee College of Law1
KENNETH EUGENE THOMAS v. MINA SUE THOMAS
Appeal from the Chancery Court for McMinn County
No. 23,096 Jerri S. Bryant, Chancellor
No. E2007-00798-COA-R3-CV - FILED APRIL 30, 2008
The issue presented in this case is whether the trial court erred in dismissing a divorce complaint
filed by the husband, a Tennessee resident, against his wife, a Washington resident, after a previous
ruling by a Washington court granting the parties a legal separation and retaining jurisdiction of the
case. Upon review, we conclude that it was within the trial court’s discretion whether to exercise
its jurisdiction and hear this matter, but that in order to have a factual basis for the exercise of its
discretion, the trial court erred in summarily dismissing the case and should have conducted an
Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Chancery Court Reversed; Case
SHARON G. LEE, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which CHARLES D. SUSANO, JR., J., and
NORMA MCGEE OGLE, SP. J., joined.
Randy G. Rogers, Athens, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Kenneth E. Thomas.
Judith A. Hamilton, Athens, Tennessee, for the Appellee, Mina Sue Thomas.
In 1987, Kenneth Eugene Thomas (“Husband”) and Mina Sue Thomas (“Wife”) were
married in the state of Washington and lived together there until 1997. In May of 1997, Wife filed
a petition for legal separation in Washington, and Husband answered with a counter-petition for
dissolution of marriage. While the divorce was pending in June of 1997, Husband moved to
Tennessee, and Wife remained in Washington. Following a trial in February of 1998, the
Washington trial court granted the parties a legal separation, divided their assets and liabilities,