12 Aug 2012

TN Wife Inherits $172,000 and Gets $400 / Mo. Rehabilitative Alimony

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Alimony Tennessee law case summary after 20 years of marriage.  Tennessee divorce and family law from the Tennessee Court of Appeals.

Christine Dall Anzalone v Joseph John Anzalone – Tennessee Alimony – 20 Year Marriage

In the case of Christine Anzalone and Joseph Anzalone, the divorce decree awarded the wife the marital residence and equally divided the assets among the two. The trial court awarded rehabilitative alimony for $400 per month for three years and attorney’s fees to the wife. The husband appealed this ruling. He stated that the trial court violated his equal rights by awarding alimony.

The parties married in 1985. After 20 years of marriage, the wife filed for divorce in April of 2004 alleging irreconcilable differences and inappropriate marital conduct. The husband answered with a counterclaim for divorce based on various factors including inappropriate marital conduct, abandonment, and irreconcilable differences. The trial court granted the wife $86 per month in pendente lite spousal support and child support of $914 per month. The husband filed a motion to request a reduction in his payments noting that he was laid off from his job and his new job paid significantly less. The trial court eliminated spousal support but required him to continue paying $914 in child support per month.

In October of 2005, the trial court granted the wife rehabilitative alimony for $400 per month. On appeal, the husband claimed he should not be required to pay alimony. The wife, a stay-at-home mother for most of the marriage, home schooled the three children for several years. She was a high school graduate and attended college for a limited amount of time. At the time of the trial, she was earning $7.75 per hour working at a CVS Pharmacy. However, she did inherit $172,000 plus additional property when her father died during the pendency of the case. The trial court determined her monthly income was $2,165 and expenses were $2,260.76.

The husband worked various jobs including operation two successful restaurants and making custom cabinetry. His income ranged from $35,000 to $40,000. He was working as a textile-spinning operator earning $12.11 per hour at the time of the trial. His gross monthly income was $2,860 per month. After deducting child support, his monthly gross income was $1,946 per month and his expenses were $1,249 per month.

The husband stated the wife had no need for alimony due to her inheritance. The court ruled that the inheritance was the wife’s separate property. It noted that while the wife’s inheritance was substantial, it would be used in the normal course of living. As the wife’s income was about half of that of the husbands, and there was no likely increase in her income long-term, and the fact that the husband has the ability to pay the alimony as awarded, that the husband should do so. The trial court affirmed the award of $400 per month. In terms of the alimony in solido award of the wife’s attorney’s fees, the appeals court stated it would not alter this unless the lower court erred in some way. It found that the attorney fees amounted to $35,000, of which the wife noted she paid $20,000 of it from her inheritance. The trial court required the husband to pay $5,000 towards those fees, a fee of one-seventh the cost. The appeals court affirmed this decision.

No. E2006-01885-COA-R3-CV, October 30, 2007.

See original opinion for exact language. Legal citations omitted.

Memphis divorce lawyer, Miles Mason, Sr., JD, CPA practices family law exclusively and is founder of the Miles Mason Family Law Group, PLC, which handles Tennessee family law matters including divorce, child support, alimony, and alimony modification. The firm represents clients in Germantown, Collierville, and the surrounding west Tennessee area.

Miles Mason


Memphis divorce and family lawyer, Miles Mason, Sr. is the founder of Miles Mason Family Law Group, PLC. For more information about our professional staff, see our Meet the Team page.


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