Tennessee Supreme Court Rules Against Lifetime Alimony
Men’s rights was delivered a victory by the Tennessee Supreme Court in a case that could determine the future of how alimony is awarded in that state.
In a unanimous decision, the state’s highest court ruled the award of lifetime alimony and attorney fees to a man’s ex-wife were inappropriate because the wife was healthy, held a stable well-paying job and received considerable assets through the division of marital property.
This alimony case involved a wife, Johanna Gonsewski, who claimed she deserved $15,000 a year in alimony despite the fact she earns $72,000 a year.
Her initial request for alimony was denied because of her income and earning potential, but upon appeal, a Court of Appeals found that the mother did deserve that much money from her ex-husband. The ex-husband, Craig Gonsewski, appealed the appellate court’s decision, and the state Supreme Court agreed with him.
The opinion, written by Chief Justice Cornelia A. Clark, noted that, “Tennessee law has been averse to providing spousal support on a long-term basis when the marriage was completely dissolved. This view continues to be reflected in the state’s current spousal support framework…favoring short-term spousal support over long-term spousal support.”
The opinion cited Johanna’s strong earning record and capacity as a reason why alimony should not have been awarded since the aim of spousal support is to “rehabilitate a spouse who is economically disadvantaged relative to the other spouse.”
In a strong statement rejecting Johanna’s claim that she was entitled to same standard of living post-divorce as during the marriage, Clark cited another case whose ruling determined alimony is not a guarantee that the “recipient spouse will forever be able to enjoy a lifestyle equal to that of the obligor spouse.”
Clark wrote: “In many instances, the parties’ assets and incomes simply will not permit them to achieve the same standard of living after the divorce as they enjoyed during the marriage.”
Click the link to read the Tennessee Supreme Court’s full opinion on alimony laws.
Perhaps this ruling is a harbinger of things to come in Tennessee regarding how alimony is awarded. Read our related article: “Alimony Reform Becomes A Reality.”
If you are looking for an alimony modification, then schedule an appointment with the divorce lawyers for men at Cordell and Cordell Family Law. Additional divorce resources are available at DadsDivorce.com.