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Posted by: Tanja Trezise on Feb 28, 2014

Head Comment: With concurring opinion.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Kevin W. Shepherd, Maryville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Dwight O. Satterfield.

Attorneys 2:

Robert W. White, Maryville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Margaret H. Satterfield.

Judge(s): SWINEY

This appeal concerns post-divorce alimony issues. Dwight O. Satterfield (“Mr. Satterfield”) and Margaret H. Satterfield (“Ms. Satterfield”) divorced after 31 years of marriage. Mr. Satterfield some years later filed a motion to terminate alimony in the General Sessions Court for Blount County (“the Trial Court”) alleging that Ms. Satterfield had been cohabiting with a man. The Trial Court ruled orally that under the Marital Dissolution Agreement (“MDA”), Ms. Satterfield’s cohabitation did not precipitate termination of alimony. Before an order was entered on his first motion, Mr. Satterfield filed another motion, this time based on the statutory rebuttable presumption that arises if there is cohabitation. The Trial Court held that res judicata resolved the issue and that alimony would not be modified. Mr. Satterfield appeals. We affirm the Trial Court as to its interpretation of the MDA. However, as Mr. Satterfield’s second motion was pending when the first order was entered, the first order was not final and the Trial Court erred in holding in its second order that res judicata resolved the alimony issue. We affirm, in part, and reverse, in part, the judgment of the Trial Court and remand this matter for further proceedings.