Session December 14, 2016
from the Chancery Court for Washington County No. 41981 E.G.
divorce case, Ed Street (Husband) appeals the trial
court's division of property, arguing that he should not
have been assigned all of the debt associated with the
business assets awarded to him. Husband also asserts that the
trial court erred in granting Jane Bingham Street (Wife) an
award of monthly alimony in futuro of $2, 000.
Finding no abuse of discretion, we affirm.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Chancery
Court Affirmed; Case Remanded
C. Jessee, Johnson City, Tennessee, for the appellant, Ed
B. Shults-Davis, Erwin, Tennessee, for the appellee, Jane
Charles D. Susano, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the
court, in which John W. McClarty and Thomas R. Frierson, II,
CHARLES D. SUSANO, JR., JUDGE
March 18, 2013, Wife filed a complaint for separate
maintenance, asking the trial court to award her child
support and spousal support, and to equitably divide the
assets and liabilities of the parties. Husband filed a
counterclaim for divorce. The trial court ordered Husband to
provide Wife support pendente lite by order entered
February 4, 2014, nunc pro tunc to September 23,
2013. Following Husband's motion to reduce his support
based on his alleged inability to pay, the trial court
ordered his child support and spousal support to be reduced
in an order entered on July 29, 2014. As will be seen below,
the trial court later found that Husband had misrepresented
his financial condition in his effort to obtain a reduction
in his support obligations. A trial was held on November 4
and 16, 2015. The trial court set forth its findings of fact
in a thorough memorandum opinion, stating, in pertinent part,
The Husband stipulated that the Wife was entitled to a
divorce on the grounds of adultery.
The Wife is sixty-one years old and the Husband is
seventy-five years old. The parties were married on January
13, 1990 and they have been married for twenty-five years.
The parties have two children who have reached the age of
majority. The Husband also has two adult children by a
Several of the properties that the parties owned have been
foreclosed or seized by creditors. Husband and his son, who
has managed some of the business interests for the Husband,
testified that several of the business interests of the
Husband are in a state of collapse and that there are no
assets for division. However, Husband has not filed for
bankruptcy or made plans to file. From the evidence
introduced at trial, it is doubtful that anyone knows the
true status of all of the Husband's business interests
and/or trusts, including himself.
In the period leading up to the parties' separation and
the filing of this case, Husband unilaterally, without
Wife's consent, set up a trust known as Main Street
Investors Trust and transferred or caused to be transferred
to the trust numerous business interests which included some
marital business interests.
The Husband used marital funds for travel expenses for travel
with his paramour.
From the 2013 Federal Income Tax Return of Husband, he had
more than $662, 000.00 in taxable income.
The Court had previously based a reduction of child support
and alimony on Husband's one page representation of
approximately $5, 000.00 income per month during 2013 and a
similar amount of income to Wife.
The amount of child support and alimony that was taken from
Wife by reason of Husband's misrepresentation of his
income through September of 2015 amounts to approximately
In September, 2015, Husband filed a motion to modify alimony,
alleging that he had no money for payment of his support
After the filing of this motion Husband, without leave of the
Court, stopped paying Wife's residential mortgage which
he had been ordered to do. The mortgage is now in arrears for
several months and is in danger of foreclosure.
The Husband also stopped paying alimony in September, 2015
after the filing of the motion.
While not paying his Court ordered obligations to benefit
Wife, Husband, or those acting for him, continued to pay the
mortgage payment encumbering the separate property of Husband
and in which property Husband's son, by his first
marriage, was living and continues to live.
It is uncontested in the record that multiple bank
accounts' statements for the month of September 2015
contained more than enough money to pay the mortgage on
Wife's residence and to pay the alimony ordered to be
paid to her.
The Husband possessed the ability to pay his Court ordered
obligations in September 2015.
The tax returns filed both jointly and separately for the
last several years were entered into the record. Most years
Husband earned several hundred thousand dollars. Although,
the 2014 tax return shows a loss, the 2013 tax return showed
income of more than $660, 000.00. No year, other than the
2014 loss, showed less than six figure earnings for the
Husband testified that the Wife fulfilled her role as a wife
and mother, having raised two fine children as a stay-at-home
mom other than the time she spent working in the family
Separate from income from the family businesses, the Wife has
never earned more than $1, 000.00, net per month. Wife is
currently employed ...