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Willenberg v. Willenberg

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

September 23, 2014

REBECCA LYNN WILLENBERG
v.
MARK EDWARD WILLENBERG

Session Date August 20, 2014

Appeal from the Chancery Court for Williamson County No. 40740 Robbie T. Beal, Chancellor.

Kimpi K. Kendrick, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellant, Mark Edward Willenberg.

Joanie L. Abernathy, Franklin, Tennessee, for the appellee, Rebecca Lynn Willenberg.

Richard H. Dinkins, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Frank G. Clement, Jr., P. J., M. S., and Andy D. Bennett, J., joined.

OPINION

RICHARD H. DINKINS, JUDGE

This appeal arises from the divorce of Rebecca Willenberg ("Wife") and Mark Willenberg ("Husband"), who were married on June 2, 1990. On March 9, 2012, Wife filed a Complaint For Absolute Divorce alleging irreconcilable differences and inappropriate marital conduct, in which she requested, inter alia, temporary and permanent alimony.

On September 1, 2013, the Chancery Court entered a Final Decree of Divorce, declaring the parties divorced pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-4-129; the court divided the marital property, assets, and mortgage debt. The court awarded Husband the marital home, valued at $313, 000; a 401(k) at a value of $100, 000; $110, 000 worth of stock; one-half of his pension funds; a 2006 Toyota Avalon, 2000 Dodge Ram, 2002 Nitro Bass boat, as well as fishing equipment and guns; and 100% of any bonuses he received from his employer. Wife was awarded Husband's retirement savings plan valued at $305, 000; one-half of Husband's pension funds; a 401(k) in her individual name; and a 2005 Chevy Equinox. Both parties were awarded checking and savings accounts in their individual names, and any furniture, furnishings, and personal property in their possession.

The court held that Wife could not be rehabilitated and awarded her alimony in futuro in the amount of $2, 000 per month for 12.5 years; she was also awarded alimony in solido in the amount of $35, 000.[1]

Husband filed a timely appeal contending that the court erred in failing to award rehabilitative alimony and in finding that he was able to increase his income. Wife appeals the amount of alimony in futuro awarded, the court's failure to award attorney fees, and the failure to designate her as the custodian of a college account maintained for their son.

DISCUSSION

I. Award of Spousal Support

Trial courts have broad discretion to determine whether spousal support is needed and, if so, the nature, amount, and duration of support. See Garfinkel v.Garfinkel, 945 S.W.2d 744, 748 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1996). Pursuant to Tennessee law, a court may award rehabilitative alimony, alimony in futuro, transitional alimony, alimony in solido or a combination of these. Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-5-121(d)(1). Our Supreme Court, in Mayfield v. Mayfield, offered a description of each form of spousal support:

Alimony in futuro, a form of long-term support, is awarded where an economically disadvantaged spouse cannot achieve self-sufficiency and economic rehabilitation is not feasible. Alimony in solido, another form of long-term support, is typically awarded to adjust the distribution of the marital estate; it is generally not modifiable and does not terminate upon death or remarriage. Rehabilitative alimony is short-term support that enables an economically disadvantaged spouse to obtain education or training and become self-reliant following a divorce. Where economic rehabilitation is ...

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