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April H. v. Scott H.

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

May 13, 2019

APRIL H.
v.
SCOTT H.

          Session March 6, 2019

          Appeal from the Chancery Court for Rutherford County No. 17CV-281 Howard W. Wilson, Chancellor.

         This is a divorce case. Wife filed for divorce in February 2017 after twelve years of marriage. Following a three-day trial, the trial court ordered Husband to pay $1000 in transitional alimony to Wife for six months and $500 per month for the following six months. The trial court also entered a permanent parenting plan for the parties' two minor children naming Husband primary residential parent. Husband received 233 days of parenting time, and Wife received 132 days. Wife appeals. Discerning no error, we affirm.

         Tenn. R. App. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Chancery Court is Affirmed and Remanded.

          Mitchell E. Shannon, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellant, April H. [1]

          Heather G. Parker, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellee, Scott H.

          Kenny Armstrong, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which J. Steven Stafford, P.J., W.S., and Arnold B. Goldin, J., joined.

          OPINION

          KENNY ARMSTRONG, JUDGE.

         I. Background

         April H. ("Appellant" or "Wife") and Scott H. ("Appellee" or "Husband") were married on August 20, 2005. Two minor children, J.H. (age 11) and L.H (age 6), were born to the marriage. Wife has two children from previous relationships, K.S. (age 20) and D.S. (age 16). During the marriage, Wife worked small jobs (i.e., fast food), but she was primarily a stay-at-home mom. Husband works for TVA; his gross monthly income was approximately $9, 332.12 at the time of trial. In 2011, Wife earned an online bachelor's degree in marketing. At the time of the hearing, Wife was 37 years old, and Husband was 41 years old.

         Wife filed a complaint for divorce on February 23, 2017 alleging irreconcilable differences and inappropriate marital conduct. Prior to filing her complaint, Wife filed a petition for an order of protection alleging that Husband abused J.H. and D.S. The trial court entered an ex parte order of protection, which was subsequently consolidated with the divorce case. On March 8, 2017, Husband filed an answer to Wife's petition for order of protection denying any abuse. Husband also filed a proposed parenting plan, wherein he asked the court to grant equal parenting time to the parties. On March 10, 2017, Husband filed an answer and counter-complaint for divorce alleging irreconcilable differences and inappropriate marital conduct. The pendente lite matters were heard by a special master, who dismissed the order of protection and granted a temporary parenting schedule giving each parent equal parenting time according to Husband's proposed parenting plan. The parties settled the division of marital property in mediation but were unable to agree on a parenting plan and alimony.

         According to Wife, one of the major problems in the marriage was the way Husband treated her son D.S. D.S. exhibited severe behavioral issues throughout the parties' marriage and was removed from multiple schools for fighting. At times, D.S.'s behavior was so volatile that he was confined to his bedroom for his own safety and the safety of others in the home. D.S.'s behavior and the parties' attempts to manage his behavior strained the marital relationship. At one point, D.S. went to live with his grandmother in Michigan; however, this arrangement did not last. Wife then sent D.S. to live at Good Sheppard Children's Home.

         The parties separated in April 2017, and Husband moved into an apartment near J.H. and L.H.'s school. In June 2017, following the parties' separation, D.S. returned to live with Wife in the marital home. On August 11, 2017, Husband filed an emergency motion for a restraining order to keep D.S. away from the two younger children. According to Wife, L.H. made an allegation that D.S. had done "something down there." There was a DCS investigation, and the matter was eventually heard by a special master, who held that there was no proof that D.S. had harmed the children. The emergency motion was dismissed, but the special master's ruling, which was later confirmed by the trial court's order of September 27, 2017, provided that D.S. was not to be left unsupervised with the minor children.

         On November 1, 2, and December 21, 2017, the trial court heard all pending matters. On January 29, 2018, the trial court issued its memorandum and order. As is relevant to this appeal, the trial court named Husband primary residential parent for L.H. and J.H. Under the permanent parenting plan, Husband received 233 days of parenting time, and Wife received 132 days. The trial court ordered Husband to pay transitional alimony in the amount of $1, 000 per month for six months and $500 per month for the following six months. Wife filed a motion for new trial, which the trial court denied. She appeals.

         II. Issues

         Wife presents the following issues on appeal:

1. Whether the trial court erred in its award of alimony to Appellant.
2. Whether the trial court abused its discretion in significantly reducing Appellant's parenting time.

         In the posture of Appellee, Husband requests attorneys' fees on appeal.

         III. Standard of Review

         This case was tried by the court sitting without a jury. As such, we review the trial court's findings of fact de novo on the record with the presumption that those findings are correct, "unless the preponderance of the evidence is otherwise." Tenn. R. App. P. 13(d). We review the trial court's conclusions of law de novo with no presumption of correctness. Gonsewski v. Gonsewski, 350 S.W.3d 99, 105-106 (Tenn. 2011); Hyneman v. Hyneman, 152 S.W.3d 549, 553 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2003).

         IV.Analy ...


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