TN Wife Gets Alimony She Asked For Then Appeals
Tennessee alimony divorce case summary after 26 years married.
The husband and wife in this Tennessee divorce case were married in 1986 and had four children, two of whom were minors at the time the husband filed for divorce in 2012. He alleged irreconcilable differences and inappropriate marital conduct, and the wife filed a counterclaim on the same grounds.
The trial court awarded the husband a divorce on the grounds of inappropriate marital conduct, divided the marital property, and adopted a parenting plan under which the minor child spent 198 days with the wife and 167 days with the husband. The court also awarded the wife $1,000 per month in transitional alimony for four years (the exact amount and length she requested at trial) followed by an additional year of alimony in solido in the amount of $1,000 per month.
Both parties filed appeals to the Tennessee Court of Appeals, which addressed numerous issues. The husband’s appeal focused on the grant of alimony to the wife. The lower court had held that the wife was the economically disadvantaged spouse, and the husband argued that this was error. He also argued that the lower court’s calculation of income had been incorrect. The wife, on the other hand, argued that the amount of alimony was insufficient.
The appeals court began its analysis by pointing out that trial courts have broad discretion in setting alimony, since an award of alimony depends on the unique facts of each case. Appellate courts are disinclined to second-guess those decisions. The lower court’s factual findings are presumed to be correct unless the evidence preponderates against them.
The trial court had found that the husband had an earning capacity of $100,000 per year, but the husband pointed out that his actual income had been less than that amount. But the appeals court examined the evidence and found that in most recent years, his income had been very close to this amount when it took into account commissions and bonuses. Therefore, it affirmed this finding.
The lower court had found the wife to have an earning capacity of $50,000, and the husband argued that this figure was low. She worked as a flight attendant, and some years had income in excess of this amount. The wife’s sister, however, testified that the amount the wife had been working was “dangerous” and “insane,” and the appeals court agreed that setting the earning capacity somewhat below the actual income was appropriate. It therefore agreed with the lower court that the wife was the economically disadvantaged spouse.
Based upon those findings, it then examined the amount of alimony and concluded that $1,000 per month was a reasonable amount.
After addressing a number of issues, the Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the lower court and remanded the case to implement the prior orders.
No. M2014-02207-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Apr. 15, 2016).
See original opinion for exact language. Legal citations omitted.
To learn more, see Alimony Law in Tennessee.