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Flodin v. Flodin

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

June 26, 2019


          Session May 20, 2019

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for Hamilton County No. 17D1397 L. Marie Williams, Judge

         This appeal arises from a divorce. Fiona Eischeid Flodin ("Wife") filed for divorce from Tan Scott Flodin ("Husband") in the Circuit Court for Hamilton County ("the Trial Court"). Husband, in the latter years of the marriage, was unemployed by his choice. Husband asserted that he contributed by helping Wife with her real estate business. Wife asserted that Husband's contributions were minimal and that he refused to work despite her urging him to get a job. After a trial, the Trial Court entered an order finding, inter alia, that Husband lived a life of leisure while Wife did the vast majority of the work both for pay and at home. The Trial Court found all the witnesses credible except Husband. The Trial Court proceeded to award Husband around 38% of the marital estate as well as six months of transitional alimony at the rate of $2, 000 per month. Husband appealed. Husband argues on appeal that the Trial Court erred in its valuation of certain marital assets, in its division of the marital estate, and in not awarding him more alimony than it did. We find that the evidence does not preponderate against the Trial Court's factual findings. The values adopted by the Trial Court as to marital assets were within the range of evidence presented. In addition, the Trial Court appropriately considered the relevant factors in its decisions regarding alimony and the marital estate. We discern no abuse of discretion or other error by the Trial Court. We, therefore, affirm the judgment of the Trial Court.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit Court Affirmed; Case Remanded

          Philip M. Jacobs, Cleveland, Tennessee, for the appellant, Tan Scott Flodin.

          Phillip C. Lawrence, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellee, Fiona Eischeid Flodin.

          D. Michael Swiney, C.J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Charles D. Susano, Jr. and Thomas R. Frierson, II, JJ., joined.




         Husband and Wife, after dating for six years, were married in 2001. No children were born of the marriage. Wife, originally a bartender, went on to become a successful real estate agent. Wife earns $186, 000 per year in her job. Wife also is college-educated. Husband worked at a tile and granite company at the beginning of the marriage. The most that Husband ever earned while working there was around $35, 000. In 2009, Husband was laid off. Husband asserts, as he has throughout, that he contributed to the marriage by helping Wife with her business. Wife's consistent position has been that Husband's contributions were minimal and that he refused to work despite her urging him to get a job.

         In either event, the marriage broke down. Shortly before the end of the marriage, Husband became deeply upset upon discovering that Wife had kissed another man. In June 2017, Wife filed for divorce. Wife's brother thereafter came to live with her and assist her. This case was tried in November of 2017. Trial centered on the parties' respective contributions to the marriage, the valuation of marital assets, as well as Husband's prospects of making a living moving forward. We proceed to review the pertinent testimony.

         Wife, age 44, testified that she works as a real estate agent 10 to 12 hours a day, seven days a week. Regarding Husband's work history, Wife testified as follows:

Q. All right. And so did Mr. Flodin work for Pinnacle and The Tile Store for a period of time during the marriage?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. What period was that?
A. Well, during -- he didn't -- he hasn't worked at The Tile Store since -- ten years. Nine -- nine years.
Q. Okay.
A. They actually -- they put him on a commission only, and he wasn't producing anything, and so they let him -- they let him go.
Q. What year was that?
A. It was probably 2008.
Q. Okay. What work did he do after 2008?
A. Nothing to get paid for.
Q. All right. There's been a suggestion that he did something in your business that was of value. What did he do to assist you?
A. He would put up signs occasionally, go to the office, get lock boxes, put in a check. When I shattered my heel, I couldn't walk. I'd sit in the driveway and he would open the door to people that I had introduced him to [sic] to show the house because I was non-weightbearing.
Q. Well, how much time did this activity consume where he was assisting you?
A. Maybe six hours a week. Maybe. Not even that. Sometimes I'd even get my photographer to put up my signs or I'd put up my signs. So not a lot. He doesn't know how to turn on a computer, write a contract, get on the MLS. When the Beck house was in operation, rental, I did every single rental agreement on the computer. Printed off the receipts. Wrote the receipts. Sent the people their directions. Wrote it on the calendar. Did -- I mean, stack -- thousands of rental agreements in the 13 years that it was owned. On top of my real estate.
Q. All right. In terms of what his activities were, he spent -- would you say the six hours a week is an average or is that the most or. . .
A. If he spent more -- or less time playing video games and actually getting a license and helping me, it might have been more.
Q. Well, what did he do to occupy himself from the time he quit working until now?
A. Played hours and hours of Call of Duty, video games, watching Fox News, watching pornography. He would clean the Beck house. That was his job, is what he's saying. It's a two-bedroom house. It takes a maximum of two hours to do it. And sometimes he would call me when I'm working to come help him do it. He'd get my friends over to help him clean. He'd wait to the last, knowing it was vacant and that check in was coming in and he'd wait till the day of, when he had four days to do it. And then complain that it was completely dirty and trashed and -- when he had days to clean that two-bedroom house.
Q. Now, what encouragement did you give him about getting a job?
A. I asked multiple times. I said, I'm tired. I'm getting burned out. I'm sick of paying for everything. I said, if you want to help, get your real estate license. This was years ago. And he said, well, I didn't graduate high school. I said well, then -- I didn't realize that at the time. And I said, well, get your GED. Went and got a book. He never opened it.
Q. Do you know of any job applications that he made after he quit working in the tile business?
A. No, sir. He worked at another tile store very briefly for, I think, a phone, but they -- that didn't last but a few months.
Q. What does he do on a daily basis? What is his routine?
A. He gets up; goes down to Mr. Zip and buys a 70 ounce diet Coke; starts playing video games and watching Fox News. He'll normally go to Krystal and get breakfast at Krystal, like a biscuit and gravy or -- that's stuff I don't like. We would go to lunch. I'd go back to showing houses, doing what I do. He'd be -- sometimes I'd come home for lunch and he'd be in bed. And I'd hear the dogs barking so I knew he was in bed taking a nap. And he said he needed to have a nap. I witnessed him watching pornography. And the Fox News was on 20 -- all -- all the time. I couldn't stand it. He wouldn't go out with me, so I would go out with my friends, because he wouldn't never leave the house, basically.

         Husband, age 51, took the stand. According to Husband, he and Wife agreed that it would be better for him to help her with the real estate business than for him to get a job, which was "plan B." Husband contends that he played a major role in building the marital residence, worked on the parties' vacation rental property, and was a regular "fixture" around Wife's office helping Wife. Husband testified, in part:

Q. Okay. And what did Mrs. Flodin -- what was plan B to Mrs. Flodin?
A. A job.
Q. Okay. And what was plan A?
A. Plan A for me was to develop these -- keep these properties running and clean the vacation rental.
Q. Okay. At any point after 2010 did she tell you that we needed to go to plan B, which is you entering the work force?
A. Yes. Off and on. Whenever it would get slow in the real estate industry in her real estate business when she would lose listings or sell everything she had, she would bring up plan B.
Q. And leading up to the separation in 2017, was that a topic that was on the table that you needed to get a job and plan B needed to go into play?
A. No. We hadn't really talked about it that much, because I was so busy working on the house.
Q. Okay. All right. Why didn't you go back into the work force after 2010?
A. Because it was in my belief that the money I was making or was capable was making was more or less a wash in the form of tax -- taxes. You know, we'd have to pay somebody over a hundred dollars to clean the vacation rental each time, which would defeat the purpose of having one in the beginning. And she needed help showing houses and putting up signs, picking them up, some of which were Soddy Daisy all the way to Coalmont, Tennessee, down into LaFayette. She couldn't be two places at one time. And we had pets and I had lawns to mow, bushes to cut, pressure washing to do, decks to fix, you know. That's why.
Q. How often would you have projects like fixing the deck where you got paid by a third party between 2010 and 2017?
A. Where I got paid by a third party. There weren't any.
Q. Okay. And how often were you mowing lawns for money?
A. I didn't.
Q. Okay. There's been testimony about your consumption of video games. On average how much video games did you play and when would you play those games?
A. I would usually get up at 6:00, sometimes 5:00 in the morning and play for two or three hours until she gave me an assignment or I had some other work to do around the house, like take the dogs to the vet or take myself to the doctor, get the car washed so Fiona could show a house with it. I ...

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