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Posted by: Tanja Trezise on Apr 8, 2013

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Donald N. Capparella, Nashville, Tennessee, and Amy J. Farrar, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellant, Olga Alekseenko Jacobsen.

Attorneys 2:

Lauren M. Spitz, and Demeka Kay Church, Franklin, Tennessee, for the appellee, Jarrod Justin Jacobsen.

Judge(s): CLEMENT

Mother appeals the trial court’s designation of Father as the primary residential parent of the parties’ minor child, the parenting plan, and the division of marital property. The trial court found that the majority of the factors set forth in Tennessee Code Annotated § 36-6-106 weighed equally in favor of both parents but designated Father as the primary residential parent primarily because the court awarded Father the marital residence, which provides stability for the child. The trial court, however, did not make any findings concerning a wealth of evidence of physical and emotional abuse by Father, some of which Father admitted, and we have determined that the preponderance of the evidence established that Father was abusive of Mother, sometimes in the child’s presence. Because Tennessee Code Annotated § 36-6-406(a) mandates that a parent’s parenting time shall be limited if the parent is found to have engaged in abuse, we reverse the designation of Father as the primary residential parent, as well as the parenting plan adopted by the court, and remand with instructions to designate Mother as the primary residential parent and establish a new parenting plan considering all applicable factors. As for the division of the marital estate, the trial court awarded Father 68% of the marital estate and Mother 32%, which Mother contends is inequitable. She asserts the inequitable distribution is due to Father being awarded the marital residence, which was unencumbered and valued at $216,000, with Mother receiving $55,000, being 26% of the equity, as her share of the marital residence. Considering the length of the marriage, that each spouse contributed substantially to satisfying the mortgage on the residence, and the relatively equal earning capacities of the parties, inter alia, we have determined it is inequitable to award Father 74% of the equity in the marital residence, the result of which awards him 68% of the marital estate. Therefore, we remand with instructions to modify the award by ordering Father to pay Mother $97,200, instead of $55,000, for her interest in the marital residence. As for attorney’s fees, we find no error in the trial court’s denial of Father’s request for his attorney’s fees at trial and we deny each party’s request for attorneys’ fees on appeal.