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Douglas J. Toppenberg

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Special Counsel
Phone: (865) 546-7311
Fax: (865) 524-1773

With more than thirty years of experience in family law, Doug Toppenberg is a qualified and respected litigator in Tennessee. He has conducted hundreds of trials and hearings in the Circuit, Chancery, and General Sessions courts of this state. He has successfully represented both men and women in divorce and child custody disputes, and has assisted clients in the division of assets ranging from modest marital estates to those valued at millions of dollars. He has also represented many clients in alimony and child support proceedings, both in the pursuit of support and in defense of such claims.

While Mr. Toppenberg is always prepared to zealously represent his clients in court, he understands the difficult emotions that come along with the decision to divorce, separate, or seek custody of a child. His years of family law practice enable him to wisely advise his clients on the many aspects of divorce, separation, child custody, alimony and other family law related issues, including the impact on them personally.  Doug is an understanding listener, but also imparts straightforward advice in an effort to facilitate resolution. He handles cases in a manner intended to cause the least amount of emotional stress and trauma. His clients value his honest and truthful approach to their unique family law situations, and they appreciate his availability and responsiveness to speak with them when questions arise.   

When interviewing a new client, Doug Toppenberg first explores the possibility of agreement, through negotiation or mediation, of the client’s divorce, separation, child custody, or alimony case, to reduce the angst and expense of the process. However, he is not afraid of confrontation and is recognized as a skilled litigator by his fellow attorneys. He has represented clients from most states and from many foreign countries in matters pending before Tennessee courts. Mr. Toppenberg has an excellent record of success, and works tirelessly to provide quality client care, professionalism, and value to each case he undertakes. 

Mr. Toppenberg served as the past chair of the Family Law Section of the Knoxville Bar Association. He has served as a Special Master in the Fourth Circuit Court and as a substitute judge in that court during the illness of the presiding judge. Doug has served as a certified Rule 21 Mentor to other attorneys, and as an expert witness on Family Law matters. He worked with the Tennessee Supreme Court updating the Rules of Juvenile Procedure, and redrafting the Parenting Plan forms used by all attorneys in the state.

Doug Toppenberg frequently represents clients before the Juvenile Courts of this state when family law cases are before that forum. He is experientially adept in this sensitive area of legal practice. He also represents clients in both agreed and contested adoptions, and drafts prenuptial agreements for clients prior to marriage.

Mr. Toppenberg extends his family law experience to represent clients in estate and trust disputes, and is frequently involved in litigation of these matters.  He brings to these cases his ability to analyze, articulate and advocate for his clients who are unable to resolve estate and trust disputes on their own, whether they are a plaintiff or a defendant in estate and trust lawsuits. When a dispute arises in the area of probate, estate, or trusts, Doug Toppenberg is an excellent choice for those who desire skill, experience, and understanding in this area of the law.

Areas of Practice


  • University of Tennessee Class of 1986 J.D.
  • Andrews University Class of 1983 B.A. with honors


  • Best Lawyers in America, 2014-2019
  • Featured in the Best Lawyers edition of the Knoxville Business Journal


  • 1986, Tennessee Supreme Court and all other state courts
  • 1986, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Tennessee
  • 1994, U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit
  • 1997, U.S. Supreme Court


  • Tennessee Bar Association
  • Knoxville Bar Association


Prenuptial Agreements | DICTA: November 2015
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