All Content

Posted by: Tanja Trezise on Apr 23, 2014

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Christopher Brett Jaeger and Gregory Dye Smith, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Brenda J. Hutcherson.

Attorneys 2:

Robert E. Kolarich, Jr., Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Wallace Jackson Hutcherson.

Judge(s): FARMER

This is a contract interpretation case involving the proper apportionment of proceeds from the sale of several properties owned by the parties as tenants in common. When Husband and Wife divorced in 2005, a marital dissolution agreement was incorporated into their Final Decree of Divorce. In pertinent part, the agreement required the parties to sell six properties and split the proceeds therefrom. The agreement listed each of the properties with a dollar amount beside it. The agreement provided that Wife could be compelled to accept an offer for a particular property so long as her share of the proceeds equaled the dollar amount listed with that property in the agreement. The sum of the amounts listed with the properties at issue was $565,800. Real estate values declined substantially after the agreement was entered, and the properties were finally sold together for $322,287.71 in 2012. Following the sale Husband filed a motion seeking an equal division of the sale proceeds. Wife answered, insisting that the agreement entitled her to $565,800 and that she was therefore entitled to all of the sale proceeds, less Husband’s expenses related to the properties. During a bench trial, the court found the agreement ambiguous and therefore considered parol evidence to determine the intent of the parties. Based on its findings, the trial court determined that the parties intended to split the sale proceeds equally. Additionally, the trial court concluded that the agreement entitled Husband to reimbursement for one-half of his expenses on the properties, which the parties stipulated to be $156,270.48. In its final accounting, the trial court awarded $234,834.09 to Husband and $87,453.62 to Wife. We affirm.