Session October 24, 2014
Appeal from the Chancery Court for Sumner County No. 2012DM68 Tom E. Gray, Chancellor
Kimberly N. Gray and Erin Monet King, Franklin, Tennessee, for the appellant, Clint Austin Howell.
James B. Hawkins, Gallatin, Tennessee, and Brenda Miller Stiles, Hendersonville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Aimee Loraine Howell.
Richard H. Dinkins, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Andy D. Bennett and W. Neal McBrayer, JJ., joined.
RICHARD H. DINKINS, JUDGE
Aimee Howell ("Mother") and Clint Howell ("Father") were married on June 16, 2001; one child was born to the marriage. On February 16, 2012, Mother filed a Complaint for Absolute Divorce alleging adultery, inappropriate marital conduct, and irreconcilable differences; she requested, inter alia, that she be named primary residential parent and that she receive child support and spousal support. Pursuant to Mother's motion, the court entered an order on March 30, adopting a temporary parenting plan which designated Mother as primary residential parent and set Father's parenting time every Wednesday from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. and every other weekend from Saturday at 9:00 a.m. until Monday at 6:00 p.m.; the order also granted Mother exclusive possession of the marital home; and ordered Father to pay support of $935.00 every two weeks.
On November 19, 2012, Father answered and counter-claimed, requesting inter alia, that he be designated primary residential parent. On March 12, 2013, pursuant to Father's motion, the court entered an order modifying Father's parenting time by making his weekly Wednesday visitation an overnight visitation.
Trial took place on July 10, 2013. On September 10 the court entered a final decree awarding an absolute divorce to Mother on the grounds of inappropriate marital conduct; dividing the marital property; and awarding Mother rehabilitative alimony of $1, 200.00 per month for five years and alimony in solido of $10, 000.00 to pay a portion of her attorney fees. The permanent parenting plan, incorporated in the final decree, designated Mother as primary residential parent and Father as alternate residential parent; granted Mother 264 days of parenting time and Father 101 days; and provided that Mother would exercise decision-making authority regarding the son's education, non-emergency health care, extracurricular activities, and religious upbringing.
Father appeals, raising the following issues:
1.Whether the court erred by ordering a parenting plan that fails to achieve the maximum participation possible for each parent in the child's life by awarding Father only 95 days of annual parenting time and by granting Mother sole decision making rights.
2.Whether or not the trial court erred in its award of alimony in solido to Wife in the amount of $10, 000.
3.Whether the trial court erred in its award of rehabilitative alimony for a five year period.
4. Whether the trial court erred when it failed to make a finding that the Mother was intentionally underemployed.
I. Spousal Support
Pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. §36-5-121(d)(1), a court may award spousal support in the form of rehabilitative alimony, alimony in futuro, transitional alimony, alimony in solido, or a combination of these. The decision to award alimony requires the court to balance the factors set forth at Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-5-121(i) and typically hinges on the unique facts of the case. See Anderton v. Anderton, 988 S.W.2d 675, 683 (Tenn.Ct.App. 1998). 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). Appellate courts will not alter such awards absent an abuse of discretion. Riggs v. Riggs, 250 S.W.3d 453, 456–457 Tenn.Ct.App. 2007 (citing Lindsey v. Lindsey, 976 S.W.2d 175, 180 (Tenn.Ct.App. 1997)). Moreover, the ...