MATTHEW WHEELER MABIE, M.D.
CARLA JENNINGS MABIE
Session October 26, 2016 
Appeal from the Circuit Court for Shelby County No.
CT-005633-11 Gina C. Higgins, Judge.
case arises out of a divorce action. After fourteen years of
marriage, the husband filed a complaint for divorce.
Following a brief and unsuccessful attempt at reconciliation,
the wife filed a counter-claim for divorce. Throughout the
marriage, the husband worked as a medical doctor and was a
partner in a highly successful medical practice. The
wife's primary role in the family was as a stay-at-home
mother. The trial court declared the parties divorced and
awarded the wife, among other things, rehabilitative alimony,
alimony in futuro, and attorney's fees. The
husband appeals the trial court's awards of alimony, the
valuation of his interest in his medical practice, the award
of attorney's fees to the wife, and the court's
decision to not punish the wife for civil contempt of court.
The wife seeks attorney's fees for defending this appeal.
Discerning no reversible error, we affirm the judgment of the
trial court. We deny the wife's request for
attorney's fees on appeal.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit
Court Affirmed and Remanded.
Farese Turner and Emily Hamm Huseth, Memphis, Tennessee, for
the appellant, Matthew Wheeler Mabie, M.D.
Mitchell David Moskovitz, Adam Noah Cohen and Zachary Michael
Moore, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Carla Jennings
Brandon O. Gibson, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which J. Steven Stafford, P.J., W.S., and Arnold B. Goldin,
BRANDON O. GIBSON, JUDGE.
Facts & Procedural History
Wheeler Mabie, M.D. ("Husband") married Carla
Jennings Mabie ("Wife") on June 7, 1997. Two minor
children were born of the marriage: a daughter, age thirteen
at the time of trial, and a son, age six at the time of
trial, which was in May 2013. Both children attended private
schools in Memphis and were involved in demanding and
expensive extra-curricular activities.
and Wife were both age forty-one at the time of trial and age
forty-three at the time of the court's ruling. Wife
attained a Bachelor of Science degree in communications prior
to the marriage, but she had not worked outside of the home
since the birth of the parties' son in 2004. Prior to
that, Wife worked off-and-on and was able to earn her real
estate license. Working as a realtor, Wife earned
approximately $40, 000-$45, 000 per year. However, by
agreement of the parties, she had not been employed in any
capacity for nearly ten years.
graduated from medical school on the same day that he and
Wife were married. He worked throughout the marriage as a
medical doctor, and he began to work as an employee at
Mid-South Pulmonary Specialists ("MSPS") in 2004.
Husband became a partner in MSPS in 2007. Husband's
employment and business interest in MSPS was a lucrative one
for the family over the years, with his income in the three
years prior to trial being (approximately) $890, 000 in 2010,
$818, 000 in 2011, and $950, 000 in 2012. This afforded the
family a high standard of living that included private school
educations for their children, expensive extra-curricular
activities for the children, two homes in Memphis and a lake
house in Arkansas, a boat, and vacations to Mexico, Canada,
parties' marriage had been troubled for many years.
Husband moved out of the marital residence in November 2011
and filed a complaint for divorce on December 19, 2011. In
his complaint, Husband alleged that Wife was guilty of
inappropriate marital conduct and that irreconcilable
differences had arisen in the marriage that would prevent the
parties from living together as husband and wife. Husband
requested that he be named "co-Primary Residential
Parent" of both children. He also prayed for an
equitable division of marital debts and property, the marital
residence, including all furniture, for his separate
property, and for attorney's fees, court costs and
January 27, 2012, both parties consented to an order of
reconciliation pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section
36-4-126. In that order, Husband and Wife agreed that Wife
would maintain exclusive use of the martial residence and
that the couple would continue with counseling during the six
month suspension of the divorce proceedings. The attempt at
reconciliation failed, and on June 22, 2012, the parties
filed a consent order setting aside the order of
reconciliation and resuming the discovery process.
December 20, 2012, Wife filed an answer to Husband's
complaint and a counter-complaint for divorce. Wife admitted
to Husband's allegation of irreconcilable differences but
alleged that he was the one guilty of inappropriate marital
conduct. Wife requested that she be awarded alimony,
attorney's fees, suit expenses, both temporarily and
permanently, and that the court would make an equitable
division of the marital property and debt between the
parties. Wife also prayed that she be named the primary
residential parent of the parties' children. Husband
responded by amending his complaint to ask that the court
name him primary residential parent of the children, rather
than co-primary residential parent as he had originally
requested. Wife answered this amended complaint and asked the
court to deny Husband's request.
March 7, 2013, Husband petitioned the court to hold Wife in
civil contempt based on allegations that she had violated the
mandatory injunction set forth in Tennessee Code Annotated
section 36-4-106. Husband alleged that Wife had taken several
different amounts, including one lump sum of $50, 000, out of
the parties' Morgan Stanley account without Husband's
knowledge, and he requested that the Court charge these
amounts against Wife's ultimate division of marital
property. In May of 2013, Wife filed her own motion for
contempt against Husband alleging that he was making
disparaging comments about her to the children. The parties
consented to an order that prevented them from talking badly
about one another in front of the kids. Otherwise, regarding
the children, it appears that the parties worked things out
fairly well between themselves. There was never a guardian ad
litem appointed for the children during the divorce, and no
issues related to the children are on appeal.
March 25, 2013, Wife filed a motion pendente lite
for child support, alimony, and attorney's fees. This
motion was heard over the course of two days by a divorce
referee. Ultimately, the referee ordered Husband to pay Wife
the sum of $10, 000 per month throughout the pendency of the
divorce proceedings, as well as other specific expenses
relative to the children and the marital estate. The $10, 000
amount included $3, 200 in child support and $6, 800 in
transitional alimony to Wife. Husband was also ordered to pay
$25, 000 of Wife's interim attorney's fees. Neither
party appealed the ruling of the divorce referee, and it was
confirmed by the trial court on May 10, 2013.
divorce case was tried over three days on May 15, 16, and 20,
2013. The trial court heard a substantial amount of
testimony, including testimony from Husband, Wife, experts
for both sides, husband's mistress, and the parties'
children, as well as being given evidentiary depositions and
multiple trial memos and exhibits for review. At trial,
Husband based his grounds for divorce on Wife's spending
habits, her alleged harassment of him at work, and on
multiple verbal and physical altercations. Wife based her
grounds for divorce on Husband's infidelity and several
verbal altercations between the parties.
April 2, 2015, nearly two years after the trial concluded,
Husband and Wife jointly moved the trial court to render a
ruling on all pending issues and to enter a final decree of
divorce. On May 4, 2015, the trial court issued an oral
ruling on some of the items at issue in the divorce. At the
conclusion of that proceeding, the trial court charged the
parties and their counsel with assigning numerical values to
various items of personal property in the marital estate. The
court then stated:
That leaves only the award of an attorney fee. And contingent
upon how the breakdown plays out, how the division actually
works out after the Court looks at the values assigned to
those personal property items along with the accounts, the
stocks, the bonuses, the Court will make its final
determination as to what it's going to do with the
20, 2015, the parties reconvened before the court so that it
could complete its ruling on the outstanding issues. At this
time, the trial court confirmed some portions of its initial
ruling and supplemented others, including dividing bank
accounts, vehicles, and other items of personalty.
Ultimately, the trial court found the entire marital estate
to be valued at $3, 185, 379, of which Husband was awarded
$1, 551, 690 and Wife was awarded $1, 064, 581. Furthermore,
the trial court awarded Wife $6, 000 per month in
rehabilitative alimony for three years and $5, 000 per month
of alimony in futuro. The award of alimony in
futuro was ordered to be paid concurrently with the
rehabilitative alimony. The trial court entered a written
final decree of divorce on August 10, 2015, and incorporated
by reference the transcripts from the May 4, 2015 and May 20,
2015 rulings. On August 10, 2015, the trial court entered a
permanent parenting plan designating Wife as the primary
residential parent and requiring Husband to pay $3, 200 per
month in child support. In addition to that sum, Husband is
required to pay other expenses related to the children.
Husband has not appealed the trial court's ruling with
regard to parenting time or child support.
presents the following issues for review on appeal:
1. Whether the trial court erred in awarding rehabilitative
alimony and alimony in futuro to Wife;
2. Whether the trial court erred in its valuation of
Husband's business interest in MSPS;
3. Whether the trial court erred in awarding attorney's
fees to Wife;
4. Whether the trial court erred in not charging Wife for
that Husband's brief is replete with sub-issues and
arguments that are only tangentially related to the issues
stated above. We pass on the offer to crawl down each rabbit
hole presented by Husband, and rather we ...