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Wife Gets $7000 per Month Alimony in Futuro from Plastic Surgeon


Tennessee case summary on medical practice valuation and alimony after 24 years married in divorce.

Deborah R. Chase v. Christopher W. Chase

She had not worked as a pharmacist for 20 years, the appeals court agreed that alimony in futuro, as opposed to transitional or rehabilitative alimony, was appropriate.

The wife in this Hamilton County, Tennessee case filed for divorce from her physician husband in 2019.  Since both children were adults, the case focused on property distribution and alimony.

A trial was held, and the lower court entered an opinion which found that the parties had accumulated significant assets.

In the early days of the marriage, the wife, who had a doctorate in pharmacy, earned more than the husband.  But after he completed his plastic surgery residency, it was decided that the mother would be a stay-at-home mother, and also assist her mother and disabled brother.

Although the wife maintained her pharmacy license, she had no interest in returning to work as a pharmacist.  Instead, she wanted to pursue more artistic pursuits.

The husband’s annual income was as high as $1 million in some recent years, although the pandemic had reduced his income.  He also had rental income of about $100,000 per year.

The husband’s witness, Dr. William Wray, testified that the wife was able to earn an income of over $110,000 based on her credentials, but the witness had not interviewed the wife or considered her physical limitations.

As to the value of the medical practice, the husband had valued it at $110,000, and the wife had set the value at $350,000.  The trial court accepted the wife’s expert witness, and ultimately pegged the value at $255,000.  The court then divided the assets.

On the issue of alimony, the trial court concluded that the wife had a need and the husband an ability to pay.  It found that the wife would have a monthly shortfall of over $11,000, to live consistently with their lifestyle during the marriage.  It set the husband’s income at $49,000 per month.

The trial court ordered the husband to pay $1600 rehabilitative alimony for three years, during which time the wife could attend school and improve her earning capacity.  It also awarded $7000 per month alimony in futuro.  After various post-trial motions, the husband appealed to the Tennessee Court of Appeals.

After stating the standard of review, the court turned first to the alimony issue.  It recited the statutory factors and examined the lower court’s ruling.

The husband acknowledged that the wife had not enjoyed her work as a pharmacist, and that they had agreed that the wife would be a stay-at-home mom, although the husband was of the opinion that the wife would return to pharmacy.  The wife pointed out that even though she had no actual limitation on her activities, she did have health conditions that would limit her time standing.

The appeals court examined the wife’s need and the husband’s ability to pay.  It agreed that those decisions were reasonable, despite the husband’s argument that her portion of the property division would be sufficient to provide her with the needed income.

And because of the wife’s physical limitations, and the fact that she had not worked as a pharmacist for 20 years, the appeals court agreed that alimony in futuro, as opposed to transitional or rehabilitative alimony, was appropriate.

Finally, the appeals court looked at the valuation of the medical practice.  On this point, the husband’s expert witness was Shannon FarrHer opinion was based 90% on the adjusted net asset value, and 10% on the capitalization of cash flow method.

The wife’s expert, Mike Costello, used the cash flow method as 100% of his analysis.  The trial court found both experts qualified, but that Costello was more experienced. 

The appeals court noted that business value is a question of fact, and as with all fact questions, the trial judge has considerable discretion.  In this case, the appeals court examined the evidence and held that it did not preponderate against the lower court’s findings.  For this reason, it affirmed the lower court’s ruling.

Finally, the wife requested her attorney’s fees on appeal, but this request was denied.

For these reasons, the Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court’s ruling and remanded the case for any necessary proceedings.

No. E2021-01300-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Dec. 09, 2022).

See original opinion for exact language.  Legal citations omitted.

To learn more, see Transmutation in Tennessee Property Division Divorce Law.

The post Wife Gets $7000 per Month Alimony in Futuro from Plastic Surgeon first appeared on Miles Mason Family Law Group, PLC.


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