Assigned on Briefs May 12, 2015
Appeal from the General Sessions Court for Warren County No. 8719 William M. Locke, Judge
Carol A. Malloy, Lynnville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Robert Hattaway.
Randy Wakefield, Carthage, Tennessee, for the appellee, Brenda Paulette Arledge.
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
On June 22, 2012, John Milton Arledge filed a complaint for divorce against his then-wife, Appellant Brenda Paulette Cripps Arledge. In her answer, filed on July 18, 2012, Ms. Arledge averred that Mr. Arledge had not disclosed all of the marital property in his complaint for divorce. On July 20, 2012, Ms. Arledge filed a cross-complaint against Mr. Arledge and also named, as a cross-defendant, Appellee Mr. Robert R. Hattaway. In her cross-complaint, Ms. Arledge stated that she had discovered that, in February of 2012 (shortly before filing the divorce), Mr. Arledge had "transferred the land that was accumulated by husband during marriage to a living trust for the benefit of Robert R. Hattaway via a living trust with husband John Arledge as the trustee." As attachments to her cross-complaint, Ms. Arledge provided the court with three warranty deeds, each transferring certain tracts of real property to "John M. Arledge, Trustee of the Robert R. Hattaway Living Trust dated December 1, 2006." Ms. Arledge claimed that there was no consideration for the transfers and "[t]hat the purpose of the transfer[s] is clearly to defeat wife's claim to her marital interest."
On August 6, 2012, Mr. Hattaway filed a motion to dismiss Ms. Arledge's cross-complaint against him. The motion states that it is brought "pursuant to Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure 12.02(6)." In his memorandum filed in support of the motion to dismiss, Mr. Hattaway states that he has no interest in the disputed parcels and, thus, is not an indispensable party on the question of whether Ms. Arledge had any interest in the transferred properties.
The trial court heard Mr. Hattaway's motion to dismiss on September 12, 2012. There is no transcript or statement of the evidence adduced at this hearing in our record. On October 3, 2012, the trial court entered an order. Concerning dismissal of Mr. Hattaway from the lawsuit, the order states only that "the Cross-Complaint against Robert Hattaway is dismissed;" however, the order does not set forth the trial court's grounds for dismissal.
On October 12, 2012, Mr. Hattaway filed a motion for attorney's fees and expenses pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated Section 20-12-119(c), along with a fee affidavit from his lawyer. While his motion for attorney's fees was pending, Mr. Hattaway filed a motion to intervene in the complaint for divorce for the limited purpose of "protecting his right to privacy in a checking account." Mr. Hattaway alleged that, although Mr. Arledge's name was on the checks for the disputed account, Mr. Arledge had no right to the funds contained in the account. By Agreed Order, entered on February 28, 2013, Mr. Hattaway was granted leave to intervene for the limited purpose of protecting his rights concerning the checking account. Also, while Mr. Hattaway's motion for attorney's fees was pending, the trial court entered its Final Decree of Divorce on March 20, 2014. However, because the motion for attorney's fees was pending, in the absence of Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 54.02 language,  the divorce decree did not constitute a final judgment for purposes of appeal. Tenn. R. App. P. 3(e).
On May 21, 2014, the trial court heard Mr. Hattaway's motion for attorney's fees under Tennessee Code Annotated Section 20-12-119(c). There is no transcript or statement of the evidence adduced at the May 21 hearing. By order of June 19, 2014, the trial court denied the motion. The order states:
This cause came to be heard before the Court on May 21, 2014, on Cross-Defendant's Motion for Attorney's ...