MICHAEL E. NELSON APPELLANT
JANICE NELSON APPELLEE
FROM THE BRADLEY COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. DR-2014-52-2]
HONORABLE KENNETH JOHNSON, JUDGE
Law Firm, by: Tim S. Parker, for appellant.
Law Firm, by: Tom Wynne, for appellee.
F. VIRDEN, Judge
parties in this case divorced after thirty years of marriage.
Appellant Michael Nelson argues that the circuit court erred
in awarding permanent alimony of $2500 per month to appellee
Janice Nelson. Michael also asserts that the circuit court
erred in unequally distributing the marital property in favor
of Janice and in ordering him to pay the greater share of the
marital debt. We find no error, and we affirm.
April 10, 2014, Janice Nelson filed for divorce on the ground
of general indignities. Janice requested $4500 per month in
alimony and for the court to divide the property and debt.
Michael Nelson counterclaimed for divorce, and he requested
that Janice's complaint be dismissed. Michael also
requested that the circuit court equally divide the property
and the debt. Janice filed an amended complaint for divorce
on December 10, 2014, alleging adultery and again requested
alimony and for the circuit court to divide the property.
Michael waived corroboration of grounds.
April 14, 2015, Michael filed an answer and counterclaim
asserting general indignities as grounds for the divorce. He
asserted that Janice was a beautician and could derive
substantial income from pursuing that career. Michael stated
in his complaint that he was unemployed and "lacked
ready cash" to pay alimony. He also argued "unclean
hands" and that Janice admitted to having had an affair
while they were married. Michael also claimed that if the
affair had not actually occurred, then Janice committed
"intentional fraud in the infliction of mental or
emotional distress" by lying about the affair. Michael
also asserted that Janice had not stated why she was entitled
response, Janice denied having had an affair. In an amended
complaint, filed on April 20, 2015, Janice stated that she
should be awarded alimony because during their thirty-year
marriage, Michael had been the primary source of income, with
a salary over $200, 000 for the past five years. By contrast,
her income was around $20, 000. She alleged that he had the
ability to pay and significantly more education and ability
to earn than she did.
15, 2015, the circuit court held a hearing on the matter.
Janice testified that she was the caregiver to her
six-year-old granddaughter and that she did not receive child
support from the child's parents. She testified that she
was a licensed beautician, and she had worked off and on
during their marriage; however, most recently and at the time
of the hearing, she was the secretary for the City of Warren.
Janice testified that she made around $18, 000, and she was
receiving food stamps. She testified that her monthly
expenses were around $3500, not including credit card debt,
and that her monthly income was around $1500. Michael had
been sending her money to pay bills since they separated, but
he had ceased sending money in the spring of 2015.
testified that in 2014 Michael spent $13, 000 on his
girlfriend in one nine-day period; $6000 on jewelry another
time; and $3200 during a trip the two took together. She
stated that Michael had also bought his girlfriend's son
a car. Janice also testified about the equity in their three
homes and about the debt remaining on each of the homes.
Janice testified that she had not had an affair but told
Michael that she had in order to upset him.
hearing Michael testified that due to the nature of his work
as a computer consultant, he had lived mostly in hotels over
the years which were paid for as part of his work contract.
He had become tired of living in hotels and had recently
opted to live in a lake house and that his portion of the
rent had been $450 a month. At the time of the hearing he was
living with friends. Michael estimated that he owed $200, 000
on delinquent income taxes from 2013 and 2014. Michael
testified that he would have his current salary for four
months after the hearing and that he had been offered a job
in Orlando for $120, 000 a year including moving expenses.
Michael stated that his prospects for work were good, just
not as good as they had been due to outsourcing his type of
work to other countries. Tax returns confirmed that
Michael's income had been over $250, 000 in 2009 and
admitted to the affair with Tina Martin and that he had spent
around $45, 000 on her and her family in 2013-2014.
August 21, 2015, the circuit court entered its order. The
circuit court granted the divorce to Janice on the ground of
adultery. It awarded the marital residence in Warren to
Janice with the instruction that she would assume the
mortgage of $37, 000. The circuit court found that the equity
in the marital home was $73, 000. Michael's mother's
residence was awarded to Michael, and the circuit court found
that the debt remaining on that house was $16, 000 and that
it had equity of $59, 000. The circuit court awarded
Janice's parents' home to Janice with the debt
remaining on that house at $13, 000 and the equity amounting
to $17, 000. The court recognized that the division of the
property was unequal and noted that in apportioning the
property it considered the amount of money from the marital
assets that had been spent on Michael's girlfriend and
her family. The circuit court also took into account the fact
that Michael had taken the contents of a marital bank
account. Both parties were awarded their cars and personal
belongings. Michael received his boat and boat trailer and
his motorcycle and its trailer. Michael was awarded the
balance of the Bank of America account and half of the AFCU
account as well.
circuit court found that on average over the past five years,
Michael had earned around $250, 000 per year, and Janice had
earned around $18, 000 per year. The circuit court noted that
Janice was currently the secretary for the City of Warren and
was receiving food stamps to supplement her income. During
the marriage Janice had primarily been a housewife, and
Michael had been, and was currently, a computer technology
consultant. The circuit court found that though Michael had
been unemployed for a time, he had ...