Session January 15, 2019
from the Circuit Court for Hamilton County No. 13-D-2293
Jeffrey M. Atherton, Chancellor 
petitioned the court to modify his alimony obligation after
Wife moved in with her boyfriend. Wife maintained that her
new living arrangement did not affect her need for alimony
because she and her partner shared expenses equally and her
living expenses after the move were unchanged. The trial
court disagreed and suspended a portion of Husband's
alimony obligation. Both sides raise issues with the trial
court's decision. Contrary to Wife's assertion, we
conclude that the alimony provision in the parties'
marital dissolution agreement did not preclude modification
of the alimony award as authorized by statute. We further
conclude that the trial court did not err in basing its
modification decision on the evidence of Wife's financial
circumstances at the time of trial. We affirm the alimony
modification, but we modify the judgment so that the
modification applies retroactively to the date of
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit
Court Affirmed as Modified
M. Ramer, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Scott
Phillip C. Lawrence, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the
appellee, Diane Kikue-Yasutake Winne.
Neal McBrayer, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which D. Michael Swiney, C.J., and Thomas R. Frierson II, J.,
NEAL McBRAYER, JUDGE
Kikue-Yasutake Winne ("Wife") and Scott Anderson
Winne ("Husband") divorced on June 23, 2015. The
final decree of divorce entered by the Circuit Court for
Hamilton County, Tennessee, incorporated the parties'
marital dissolution agreement ("MDA") and permanent
parenting plan for their two minor children. Among other
things, Husband agreed to pay Wife $2, 200 per month as
spousal support and $1, 800 in child support.
the divorce, Wife began dating Albert Waterhouse, a local
businessman. In August 2017, Wife sold her home and moved
into Mr. Waterhouse's home with her two children.
Following the move, Husband asked Wife to agree to a
voluntary termination of spousal support. When she refused,
he turned to the court for relief. His modification petition
alleged that Wife's cohabitation created a statutory
presumption that she no longer needed alimony. See
Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-5-121(f)(2)(B) (2017). For her
part, Wife denied grounds existed for modifying her spousal
hearing on the petition, Wife did not dispute that she was
living with Mr. Waterhouse. They shared, along with
Wife's two children, a $490, 000 home on Lookout
Mountain, which the couple had purchased in October 2017.
Wife and Mr. Waterhouse owned the home as joint tenants with
right of survivorship.
Waterhouse was willing to support Wife. But she did not
accept his offer; instead, she insisted on paying her own
expenses. Wife contributed half of the down payment for the
Lookout Mountain home and was jointly obligated for the
mortgage. And she devised a financial sharing arrangement
with Mr. Waterhouse to divide their new living expenses. Mr.
Waterhouse paid the mortgage each month, or $3, 329.19, while
Wife paid the remaining living expenses, such as utilities,
groceries, and home maintenance. Mr. Waterhouse explained
that the arrangement "seem[ed] to be about even."
He also financed some vacations for Wife and her children
because she could not afford it.
testified that Wife's standard of living improved after
the move. She lived in a nicer neighborhood in a more
valuable home. She took more expensive trips. And she no
longer had any ...