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Francis v. Francis

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

August 22, 2014

THERESA R. FRANCIS
v.
ROBERT A. FRANCIS, JR.

Assigned On Briefs April 11, 2014

Direct Appeal from the Circuit Court for Montgomery County No. MCCCCVDN130179 Michael R. Jones, Judge

Theresa R. Francis, Pro Se

Robert A. Francis, Jr., Pro Se

David R. Farmer, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Holly M. Kirby, J., and J. Steven Stafford, J., joined.

MEMORANDUM OPINION [1]

DAVID R. FARMER, JUDGE

Robert A. Francis, Jr. ("Husband") and Theresa Rollison Francis ("Wife") were married in May 1999. Husband was approximately 41 years of age at the time of the marriage; Wife was approximately 44 years of age. The marriage was Husband's first marriage and Wife's second. No children were born of the marriage. Husband filed a complaint for legal separation in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County in January 2013, alleging the grounds of irreconcilable differences and inappropriate marital conduct. In his complaint, Husband stated that he was employed at Bridgestone Metalpha, USA, and asserted that he did not know whether Wife was employed. Acting pro se, Wife filed a petition for divorce in May 2013, praying for a divorce on the ground of irreconcilable differences. She filed an answer to Husband's petition in June 2013, generally denying Husband's requests for relief. Mediation in July 2013 resolved most issues between the parties. However, the division of the parties' marital home and unimproved real property in Clarksville, the division of credit card debt and educational debt, the division of retirement assets, alimony, and whether a divorce or legal separation would be granted were unresolved by mediation.

The matter was heard by the trial court on July 11, 2013. By order entered August 1, 2013, the trial court found that both parties had been unhappy in the marriage "for a long period of time" and determined that a divorce should be granted pursuant to statute.[2] The trial court found that, "after obtaining some additional education, " Wife traveled to Texas in December 2012 to interview for a job; that she left the parties' marital home in January 2013; that she was employed in Texas and had medical insurance through her employer; and that she "did not expect nor want the husband to accompany her to Texas." The trial court further found that the parties agreed that Wife's income was $3, 986.67 per month and that Husband's income was $6, 333.34 per month. The trial court valued the parties' marital home in the amount of $177, 900, the amount established by the tax assessor; found that Husband made a down payment on the home in the amount of $30, 000 from his separate property; and that two mortgages totaling $115, 200.00 were owed on the home. The trial court found that, after subtracting Husband's separate property, the parties' marital equity in the home was $32, 700. It awarded this amount to Husband. The trial court found that the parties' unimproved real property was valued at $39, 000 and that there were no liens against the property. It awarded that property to Wife. The trial court found that Husband's retirement account was valued at $238, 000 and that $33, 000 of the fund was earned prior to the parties' marriage. It awarded Husband $125, 000 from the fund and awarded Wife $80, 000. The trial court found that Wife's retirement account was valued at $37, 000 and awarded it to Wife. The trial court stated that Wife testified that she needed alimony in case she lost her job. The trial court denied Wife's request for alimony, finding that the division of real property provided Wife with assets valued at more than $30, 000. The trial court ordered Husband to pay the parties' credit card debt in the amount of $4, 000, and ordered Wife to pay educational debt in the amount of $6, 865.00. Wife filed a timely notice of appeal to this Court.

Issues Presented

The issues presented for our review, as we perceive them, are:

(1) Whether the trial court failed to divide the parties' property equitably.
(2) Whether the trial court erred by denying Wife's request for alimony.

Standard of Review

We review the factual findings of a trial court sitting without a jury de novo upon the record, with a presumption of correctness unless the preponderance of the evidence is otherwise. Tenn. R. App. P. 13(d); e.g., Allstate Ins. Co. v. Tarrant, 363 S.W.3d 508, 515 (Tenn. 2012). Our review of a trial court's conclusions of law, however, is de novo with no ...


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