Domestic (Family Law) Cases

Alimony In Solido

Except as indicated, all indented material is copied directly from the court’s opinion. 

Decisions of the Tennessee Supreme Court

Decisions of the Tennessee Court of Appeals

Greene v. Greene, No. M2022-01171-COA-R3-CV, p. 3 (Tenn. Ct. App. Oct. 11, 2023).

The determination of whether attorney’s fees are warranted as an award of alimony in solido is within the sound discretion of the trial court. Gonsewski v. Gonsewski, 350 S.W.3d 99, 113 (Tenn. 2011).

Burnett v. Burnett, No. E2021-00900-COA-R3-CV, p. 8-9 (Tenn. Ct. App. Dec. 7, 2022).

Our standard of review of the trial court’s decision to award alimony is as stated by the Supreme Court:

For well over a century, Tennessee law has recognized that trial courts should be accorded wide discretion in determining matters of spousal support. This well-established principle still holds true today, with this Court repeatedly and recently observing that trial courts have broad discretion to determine whether spousal support is needed and, if so, the nature, amount, and duration of the award.

Equally well-established is the proposition that a trial court’s decision regarding spousal support is factually driven and involves the careful balancing of many factors. Kinard v. Kinard, 986 S.W.2d 220, 235 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1998); see also Burlew, 40 S.W.3d at 470; Robertson v. Robertson, 76 S.W.3d 337, 340-41 (Tenn. 2002). As a result, “[a]ppellate courts are generally disinclined to second-guess a trial judge’s spousal support decision.” Kinard, 986 S.W.2d at 234. Rather, “[t]he role of an appellate court in reviewing an award of spousal support is to determine whether the trial court applied the correct legal standard and reached a decision that is not clearly unreasonable.” Broadbent v. Broadbent, 211 S.W.3d 216, 220 (Tenn. 2006). Appellate courts decline to second-guess a trial court’s decision absent an abuse of discretion. Robertson, 76 S.W.3d at 343. An abuse of discretion occurs when the trial court causes an injustice by applying an incorrect legal standard, reaches an illogical result, resolves the case on a clearly erroneous assessment of the evidence, or relies on reasoning that causes an injustice. Wright ex rel. Wright v. Wright, 337 S.W.3d 166, 176 (Tenn. 2011); Henderson v. SAIA, Inc., 318 S.W.3d 328, 335 (Tenn. 2010). This standard does not permit an appellate court to substitute its judgment for that of the trial court, but “‘reflects an awareness that the decision being reviewed involved a choice among several acceptable alternatives,’ and thus ‘envisions a less rigorous review of the lower court’s decision and a decreased likelihood that the decision will be reversed on appeal.’” Henderson, 318 S.W.3d at 335 (quoting Lee Medical, Inc. v. Beecher, 312 S.W.3d 515, 524 (Tenn. 2010)). Consequently, when reviewing a discretionary decision by the trial court, such as an alimony determination, the appellate court should presume that the decision is correct and should review the evidence in the light most favorable to the decision.

Gonsewski, 350 S.W.3d at 105-06 (internal citations and footnote omitted).


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