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Hindiyeh v. Abed

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

April 25, 2018

WAFA BADAWI HINDIYEH
v.
WALEED FAWZI ABED

          Assigned on Briefs February 2, 2018

          Appeal from the Chancery Court for Rutherford County No. 16CV-802 J. Mark Rogers, Judge [1]

         This appeal arises from a divorce. Wafa Badawi Hindiyeh ("Wife") sued Waleed Fawzi Abed ("Husband") for divorce in the Chancery Court for Rutherford County ("the Trial Court"). After a trial, the Trial Court, inter alia, granted Wife a divorce, entered a permanent parenting plan with respect to the parties' minor son ("the Child") awarding Wife 285 days to Husband's 80, and awarded Wife a judgment for the value of a Cadillac less $2, 500 Wife received on the sale of her original vehicle for a total judgment of $13, 400. Husband appeals to this Court, arguing, among other things, that the Trial Court found no statutory factors applicable to justify such a paltry award of parenting time to him and that the Cadillac at issue was not even marital property subject to division. We vacate the Trial Court's judgment with respect to the residential parenting schedule and remand for the Trial Court to award Husband significantly more time with the Child. Finding that the Cadillac was not marital property, we modify the Trial Court's award of $13, 400 to Wife to $2, 000 to account for only the sale of Wife's original vehicle. We otherwise affirm the Trial Court. We, therefore, affirm as modified, in part, and vacate, in part, the judgment of the Trial Court.

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

          Charles G. Ward, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellant, Waleed Fawzi Abed.

          Sonya W. Henderson, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellee, Wafa Badawi Hindiyeh.

          D. Michael Swiney, C.J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which W. Neal McBrayer and Arnold B. Goldin, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          D. MICHAEL SWINEY, CHIEF JUDGE.

         Background

         Husband and Wife were married in October 2013. Husband was age 26 at trial and is originally from Kuwait. Wife, age 23 at trial, hails from Jordan. The Child was born in December of 2015. The parties lived in Smyrna, Tennessee during the marriage.

         Husband works for Nissan in the Quality Control Department. Wife did not work during the marriage but was a full-time student at Middle Tennessee State University. Wife went on to earn her Master's Degree in Accounting. Wife now works as an accountant for HCA in Nashville. The parties purchased a house in Smyrna. Husband's father and uncle own a body shop and contributed significant sums to Husband for the couple to live on during the marriage, including $47, 000 for a down payment on their home. These contributions are a point of contention on appeal.

         Wife entered the marriage owning a 2004 Mercedes. Husband later sold the Mercedes for $4, 500, giving Wife $2, 500 to use toward her tuition. When Wife graduated from MTSU, Husband presented Wife with a Cadillac featuring a large bow on top. However, the car was not titled in Husband's name but rather originated with Husband's father's business. When the parties separated, Husband's father repossessed the Cadillac. The Cadillac later was put up for sale at the price of $15, 900.

         In April 2016, the parties separated. Wife filed for divorce in May 2016. Wife and the Child went to live with Wife's mother. Wife pays her mother $400 a month to watch the Child. After a Pendent Lite hearing in July 2016, Husband was awarded visitation every other weekend from Saturday at 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

         This case was tried in December of 2016. Wife's mother, Tahani Quwaider, testified concerning Husband's behavior toward Wife:

Q. All right. How long have you known Waleed Abed?
A. (Through interpreter) Since -- since they engage, almost three years.
Q. All right. Do you know of an occasion while they were married that you had to get your daughter in her pajamas because she had been thrown out of the house of Waleed Abed and her?
A. (Through interpreter) Yes. He kicked her out of house and he took -- took the wallet, the key -- her keys and left her without anything.
Q. And what?
A. (The interpreter) Left her without anything, without any documents.
***
Q. Was she punished many times for associating with Americans?
A. (Through interpreter) All the time, punished. All the time.
Q. What punishments did she know of?
A. (Through interpreter) Beating her up, threatening her, threw her away from home, and threatening by divorce.
Q. All over just hanging around Americans?
A. (Through interpreter) Yes. And preventing her from go out or if she liked to go to park with her son, is not allowed. Everything is forbidden or not allowed.
Wife's mother testified further, this time regarding her babysitting the Child:
Q. So she gave some -- I have some documents. So your daughter writes you a check to babysit her grandson -- her son?
A. (Through interpreter) Yes. Checks, yes.
Q. So she charges her own daughter to watch her grandson?
A. (Through interpreter) She try to help her.
Q. So she doesn't give her -- pay her to watch her grandson?
A. (Through interpreter) Yes, to take care of the child and be aware of the child.
Q. And her -- does her daughter live in her house with her?
A. (Through interpreter) Yes, in the same house.
Q. Does she -- if her -- if her daughter doesn't pay her, is she going to throw her grandson out?
A. (Through interpreter) No, she's going to put him in his eyes and in her heart.
Q. So if she puts her in -- she puts her grandson in her eyes and her heart, why does she charge her daughter $500 to watch her own grandson?
A. (Through interpreter) She saying it's better than babysit, you are going to take care of the child instead of to pay the babysit. You are -- you will be better than anybody else. You are going to be taking care of the child.
Q. So if the father watches the child and he doesn't charge anything, it saves her daughter money, does it not?
A. (Through interpreter) She cannot trust in him because he tried to promise many things and she doesn't believe that.
Q. How much does she charge a week to watch her own grandson?
A. (Through interpreter) Totally, per month, $400 a month.
Q. Does she charge her own daughter to stay in her house?
A. (Through interpreter) Yes, she pay $500.
Q. Does she charge her own daughter for electric, water, gas, cable?
A. (Through interpreter) Yes. She helps. Last month she helped, this month she helped. She help always.
***
Q. Even if she doesn't get paid any money, is she going to continue to watch her grandson?
A. (Through interpreter) Yes.
Q. Ask her if she'll do it for free. Would she do that for free, watch her grandson?
A. (Through interpreter) She would put him in his eyes, but he has to manage that and to give this is -- he has to pay that too.
Q. Who is he?
A. (The interpreter) The son-in-law.
Q. My question is, will she watch her grandson for free? Is that yes or no, and then she can explain.
A. (Through interpreter) Yes.
Wife testified as follows concerning the parties' finances during the marriage:
Q. And when you two purchased this home, you put $45, 000 down; is that correct?
A. Yes, ma'am.
Q. The $45, 000 came from where?
A. I put $2, 000 and he put the rest. He would -- his work from Nissan, and then he would sell -- buy and sell cars with his father. That's how he collected all that money.
Q. So that money actually came out of his checking account?
A. Uh-huh.
***
Q. All right. Now, you -- 2014, 2015, 2016 -- first off, I will show this to your husband. All of his checking accounts show -- statements where these -- there's money from cars being, whatever you call it, sold.
A. Uh-huh.
Q. Flipped, so to speak.
A. Uh-huh.
Q. And you guys have used that money for the whole time you were married?
A. Uh-huh. That's correct.
Q. That was normal?
A. Uh-huh.
Q. So this Cadillac -- well, let me back up. When you married him, did you own a car?
A. I did. Yeah, I had my own car.
Q. And what was it?
A. I had a 2004 Mercedes.
Q. And what did you do with the 2004 Mercedes?
A. He sold it later.
Q. Your husband sold ...

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