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Posted by: Tanja Trezise on Feb 26, 2014

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Selma Cash Paty, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Rita Grace Tidwell Hickman.

Attorneys 2:

Bobby Spencer Hickman, East Ridge, Tennessee, appellee, pro se.

Judge(s): SUSANO

In this post-divorce case, Rita Grace Tidwell Hickman (“wife”) appeals the trial court’s reduction of her transitional alimony and its refusal to grant her attorney’s fees, expenses and discretionary costs. The trial court granted the petition of Bobby Spencer Hickman (“husband”) to reduce alimony based on Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-5-121(g)(2)(C) (2010), which allows a suspension of transitional alimony when the recipient lives with a third person and the recipient fails to rebut the statutory presumption that the third person is either contributing to, or receiving contribution from, the alimony recipient, and, therefore, the alimony recipient does not need the amount of alimony previously awarded. The third person was the parties’ son, Ethan, who had turned eighteen shortly before husband filed his petition. Wife continued to allow Ethan to live with her, and provided food and other necessities to him, after he turned eighteen. We hold that wife rebutted the statutory presumption by showing that her financial situation had not significantly changed, and actually had deteriorated, since the award of transitional alimony. Wife demonstrated a continuing need for alimony notwithstanding her willingness to allow her son to continue living with her and to support him after his eighteenth birthday. The judgment of the trial court is reversed. This case is remanded to the trial court for the court to determine wife’s fees and expenses at the trial court level and her discretionary costs.