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Hallums v. Hallums

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

June 21, 2017

TRACY LYNN HALLUMS
v.
BRUCE ALAN HALLUMS

          Session February 22, 2017

         Appeal from the General Sessions Court for Wilson County No. 2014DC160 John Thomas Gwin, Judge

         In this divorce action, the trial court awarded alimony in futuro and attorney's fees to Wife; Husband appeals both awards. Concluding that the court did not make adequate findings as to whether rehabilitative or transitional alimony was feasible, we vacate the award of alimony in futuro and remand for further consideration of the nature and duration of the alimony award; we affirm the trial court's award of attorney's fees to Wife; and we decline to award attorney's fees to either party for the appeal.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the General Sessions Court Vacated in Part and Affirmed in Part; Case Remanded

          John L. Meadows, Lebanon, Tennessee, for the appellant, Bruce Alan Hallums.

          Melanie R. Bean, Lebanon, Tennessee, for the appellee, Tracy Lynn Hallums.

          Richard H. Dinkins, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which W. Neal McBrayer and Brandon O. Gibson, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          RICHARD H. DINKINS, JUDGE.

         This is an appeal from a final decree of divorce following a 25-year marriage in which the court awarded alimony in futuro and attorney's fees to the Wife. Tracy Hallums ("Wife") and Bruce Hallums ("Husband") were married on October 6, 1990, in Lebanon, Tennessee. Two children were born to the marriage, one of whom was a minor at the time of trial. Wife filed for divorce on October 15, 2014, on the grounds of irreconcilable differences or, alternatively, inappropriate marital conduct; Husband answered and filed a counter-complaint for divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences and inappropriate marital conduct. Mediation was unsuccessful, and the case proceeded to trial on November 2, 2015. Wife, Husband, and Husband's paramour testified at trial.

         The trial court awarded the divorce to Wife on the grounds of Husband's inappropriate marital conduct and adultery; named Wife as primary residential parent of the youngest child, adopted Mother's parenting plan, and set child support; and classified and divided the marital property and debts. Pertinent to this appeal, the court awarded Wife alimony in futuro in the amount of $1, 500.00 per month and awarded her a judgment in the amount of $13, 949.50 for attorney fees and litigation expenses, awards which Husband appeals. Both parties seek their fees incurred on appeal.

         I. Analysis

         The standard of review of an award of alimony we employ was set forth in Gonsewski v. Gonsewski:

[A] trial court's decision regarding spousal support is factually driven and involves the careful balancing of many factors. Kinard v. Kinard, 986 S.W.2d 220, 235 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1998); see also Burlew [v. Burlew], 40 S.W.3d [465] at 470 [(Tenn. 2001)]; Robertson v. Robertson, 76 S.W.3d 337, 340-41 (Tenn. 2002). As a result, "[a]ppellate courts are generally disinclined to second-guess a trial judge's spousal support decision." Kinard, 986 S.W.2d at 234. Rather, "[t]he role of an appellate court in reviewing an award of spousal support is to determine whether the trial court applied the correct legal standard and reached a decision that is not clearly unreasonable." Broadbent v. Broadbent, 211 S.W.3d 216, 220 (Tenn.2006). Appellate courts decline to second-guess a trial court's decision absent an abuse of discretion. Robertson, 76 S.W.3d at 343. An abuse of discretion occurs when the trial court causes an injustice by applying an incorrect legal standard, reaches an illogical result, resolves the case on a clearly erroneous assessment of the evidence, or relies on reasoning that causes an injustice. Wright ex rel. Wright v. Wright, 337 S.W.3d 166, 176 (Tenn. 2011); Henderson v. SAIA, Inc., 318 S.W.3d 328, 335 (Tenn. 2010).

350 S.W.3d 99, 105 (Tenn. 2011) (footnote omitted).

         Tennessee recognizes four distinct types of spousal support: (1) alimony in futuro, (2) alimony in solido, (3) rehabilitative alimony, and (4) transitional alimony. Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-5-121(d)(1).[1] There are no hard and fast rules for spousal support decisions. Anderton v. Anderton, 988 S.W.2d 675, 682-83 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1998); Crain v. Crain, 925 S.W.2d 232, 233 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1996). In determining whether to award spousal support, the trial court is required to consider "all relevant factors, " including:

(1) The relative earning capacity, obligations, needs, and financial resources of each party, including income from pension, profit sharing or retirement plans and all other sources;
(2) The relative education and training of each party, the ability and opportunity of each party to secure such education and training, and the necessity of a party to secure further education and training to improve such ...

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