Session May 14, 2015.
Appeal from the Circuit Court for Shelby County No. CT00042508 Gina C. Higgins, Judge.
Ronald D. Krelstein, Germantown, Tennessee, for the appellant, James W. Tagg.
Eric H. Espey, Germantown, Tennessee, for the appellee, Sharon R. Tagg.
Kenny Armstrong, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which J. Steven Stafford, P.J., W.S., and Arnold B. Goldin, J., joined.
KENNY ARMSTRONG, JUDGE.
James W. Tagg ("Appellant") and Sharon R. Tagg ("Appellee") (together, "the Taggs") were married in 1978. Ms. Tagg filed suit for divorce on January 29, 2008, citing irreconcilable differences. As part of their divorce proceedings, the Taggs signed a Marital Dissolution Agreement ("MDA") dated May 22, 2008. Two sections of the MDA are relevant to this appeal.
First, Paragraph 7 of the MDA states, in pertinent part:
In exchange for relinquishing her interest in the marital residence so as to allow the sale or transfer of the marital residence, [Mr. Tagg] shall be responsible for the payment of [Ms. Tagg]'s rent. Said rent is currently $1, 300.00 monthly; however, [Mr. Tagg]'s obligation to pay [Ms. Tagg]'s rent or mortgage shall continue until [Ms. Tagg] economically no longer needs [Mr. Tagg]'s assistance. Both [Mr. Tagg] and [Ms. Tagg] shall agree that [Ms. Tagg] no longer needs the assistance.
The second relevant section, Paragraph 25, states that "[f]ailure of either party to insist upon strict performance of any of the provisions of this agreement shall be construed as a waiver of and any subsequent default of the same or similar nature."
On June 4, 2008, the Shelby County Circuit Court finalized the parties' divorce by final decree and incorporated the MDA into the final divorce decree. According to Ms. Tagg's deposition testimony, Mr. Tagg made two or three rent payments immediately following the entry of the divorce decree, but made no further payments thereafter. In response, on December 3, 2010, Ms. Tagg filed a "Petition for Enforcement of Marital Dissolution Agreement, " alleging that Mr. Tagg had failed to meet his obligation to pay her rent. On February 2, 2011, Mr. Tagg responded to the petition, arguing that Ms. Tagg had waived her rights to the rent payments under Paragraph 25 of the MDA and that the MDA was an unenforceable contract. The trial court entered an order dated March 28, 2011, holding that the MDA was an enforceable contract. Without a specific finding on Mr. Tagg's waiver argument, the trial court also ordered Mr. Tagg to pay rent to Ms. Tagg. The order reserved the issues of arrearage and attorney's fees.
On June 6, 2011, Ms. Tagg filed a "Petition for Scire Facias for Citation for Civil and Criminal Contempt, " claiming that Mr. Tagg had refused to comply with the trial court's order requiring him to pay Ms. Tagg's rent. Mr. Tagg filed a motion to dismiss the petition for contempt on June 16, 2011. Our record appears incomplete, because the next filing contained in the record is Mr. Tagg's July 10, 2014 answer to a complaint. It is unclear what complaint this answer is in response to. On July 25, 2014, the trial court entered an order holding that the MDA was enforceable in its entirety, and that Paragraph 25 of the MDA did not excuse ...