Tennessee case summary on property division in divorce.

Teresa Lynn Brown v. Charles Furman Phillips, Jr.

The husband and wife were married in 1996.  It was the husband’s third marriage, but the wife’s first.  The wife worked for the Tennessee Highway Patrol, and the husband operated a painting business.  He closed the business in 2008 and worked only sporadically after that date.

The wife filed for divorce in 2018.  She had retired, but worked part-time for a police department.

The wife brought substantial assets into the marriage, including the marital residence and inherited land.  While there was a house on the property before the marriage, it was improved during the marriage.

The trial court determined that the value of the marital home had increased from about $67,000 to $265,000 during the marriage, for an increase of almost $200,000.  The wife was awarded the residence, but was ordered to pay half this increase, almost $100,000, to the husband.  The husband was also awarded half of the pension accrued during the marriage.  The wife then appealed to the Tennessee Court of Appeals.

The appeals court first concluded that the initial valuation of the property was a question of fact, and that great weight is accorded to the trial court’s findings.  Therefore, the initial value of $67,000 was quickly affirmed.

The wife argued that the increase in value should not have been divided equally.  Here, the wife garnered some sympathy from the appeals court.  It pointed out that the wife had funded a $50,000 kitchen remodel without the husband’s helpThose funds were traced to her separate account.  After examining the statutory factors, the appeals court concluded that a 60/40 split would be more equitable than the lower court’s 50/50 split.  Therefore, it reduced the husband’s share to $79,120.

After examining the pension, the appeals court also agreed that a 60/40 split would be more equitable.  Therefore, it modified that portion of the lower court’s ruling as well.

As modified, the Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court’s judgment.  It also taxed the costs of appeal against the husband.

No. E2020-00441-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Mar. 29,  2021).

See original opinion for exact language.  Legal citations omitted.

To learn more, see Property Division in Tennessee Divorce.

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