Session November 14, 2017
from the Chancery Court for Sevier County No. 13-9-285
Telford E. Forgety, Jr., Chancellor
appeal concerns divorce and child support matters. Robert
Harvey Santee ("Husband") sued wife Stacy Lynn
Santee ("Wife") for divorce in the Chancery Court
for Sevier County ("the Trial Court"). After a
trial, the Trial Court awarded Husband a divorce based upon
Wife's inappropriate marital conduct. The Trial Court
divided the marital estate, awarded Wife rehabilitative
alimony, and imputed income to her for child support
purposes. Wife appealed to this Court, arguing that, among
other things, as a stay-at-home mother in a long-term
marriage, rehabilitative alimony is insufficient. Husband
argues in response that he has longstanding plans to retire.
We find that the Trial Court erred in imputing income to Wife
for two years of child support purposes when the Trial Court
also found that Wife was capable of going to school for those
two years to improve her financial situation and awarded
rehabilitative alimony for Wife to do exactly that.
Otherwise, we affirm the judgment of the Trial Court.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Chancery
Court Affirmed as Modified; Case Remanded
A. Hopson, Kingsport, Tennessee, for the appellant, Stacy
N. Wilson, Sevierville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Robert
Michael Swiney, C.J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which Thomas R. Frierson, II, J.
MICHAEL SWINEY, CHIEF JUDGE.
parties married in 1990. Husband is a radiologist who earns
around half a million dollars per year. Wife, a high school
graduate, was a stay-at-home parent. Wife sold some Mary Kay
products during the marriage, but she lost money doing so.
Five children were born of the marriage, but only one was a
minor at the time of trial. This child, Tavyn, was born in
2000. Wife acknowledged having had an adulterous
relationship, which began in 2012. Husband sued for divorce
in September 2013. This case was tried over the course of two
days in August 2016.
testified to her very limited work history:
Q. Now, in the course of all this time of the marriage, did
you ever work outside the home, or would --
Q. -- you stay at home?
A. I stayed at home.
Q. How did you see your role and Dr. Santee's role in
supporting this family and the home?
A. He is a great provider. He always made sure the kids were
taken care of, there was food on the table, there was -- you
know, we had vacations, everything. He -- excuse me -- he
wasn't emotionally there, but he was -- he always took
care of us that way. I have always volunteered at school.
I've always been hands-on with my kids because I think
that that's my goal. That was my -- that's my biggest
accomplishment in my life, is my children and taking care of
their needs and being there. And they know if they pick up
the phone and say, "I need, " or "I want,
" I'm there, period.
testified as to whether Wife worked during the marriage, and
his blunt testimony reflects the difficult circumstances
under which the marriage ended:
Q. All right. Now, how many jobs outside the home has she had
since you and she have been married?
A. She sold Mary Kay products.
Q. And do you know what income she made from that?
A. She lost money with that. She left her -- she did not go
out and do what her manager told her to do, which was to have
parties and whatnot to get people to buy her product, so that
her product sat around, especially when she started screwing
around with Chad Hopson, and the product expired. It was over
$10, 000 worth of product that had to be thrown away.
Q. Well, before all of that, what other jobs did she hold
outside the home to produce a meaningful income?
Q. None. So as far as you know, she has no real ability to
earn an income anywhere close to the lifestyle that you and
she had, does she?
A. She would have to go get a lot of schooling in order for
that to happen.
Q. So the answer to my question is?
A. Is no.
certain marital debts, the division of which is an issue in
this appeal, Wife testified as follows:
Q. Okay. Let me talk to you about other assets that you and
Dr. Santee have. There's a list of cars that we talked
about and he had talked about as well. The Subaru to Dr.
Santee and the Suburban to you, do you believe that's a
Q. -- distribution of those cars? The balance of the cars are
in the hands of the children. Do you want the kids to be able
to keep their car?
A. Yes, I do.
Q. Okay. Now, there's some debt associated with some of
Q. Were some of the cars bought after this divorce started?
Q. And did you sign any of that debt?
Q. Dr. Santee did?
Q. Do you ask that he be required to pay those?
Q. - aren't you? There is a couple of life insurance
policies that Dr. Santee has. Probably one of them -- and
I'm guessing rounded values of about $50, 000. Now
they're about maybe $200, 000, if that, with a loan
against one of them. I think he had testified yesterday it
was -- may be on here. It was over $80, 000.
Q. Did you receive the benefit of any of the $80, 000 loan
that Dr. Santee took out against that life insurance policy
Q. -- at the start of this litigation?
Q. I know he indicated he had some expenses he had to pay,
including attorney fees. Do you ask the Court to treat that
liability separate and not part of your liability?
testified to the expenses he had incurred since the case was
filed as well as his overall financial status:
Q. Have you been paying the expenses since this case was
filed almost three years ago, the household expenses, Dr.
A. Yes, whenever I received the bills from Stacey.
Q. And, again, you previously testified to that temporary
agreed order dated November 1st, 2016, wherein you agreed to
pay all the household expenses and the $2, 100. Did you do
Q. Each and every ...