A lower appeals court decision has been reversed by the Tennessee Supreme Court to award long-term and lump-sum alimony to a suburban Nashville woman who has a stable and well-paying job, is in good health and received significant assets in the divorce.
Family law attorneys have been watching the divorce case of Johanna and Craig Gonsewski of Hendersonville because the previous Court of Appeals ruling reversed years of precedent that limited lifetime alimony for former spouses who are in especially difficult circumstances.
Even though Johanna Gonsewski earned less than her husband of 21 years, the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision reinstated the trial court’s decision not to award lifetime alimony and substantial attorney fees.
Johanna and Craig Gonsewksi were divorced in 2009. They both hold well-paying jobs and are college-educated.
Craig earned $137,418, including bonuses, as comptroller of a restaurant equipment manufacturer and Johanna earned $73,500 in information technology with the state government.
Their two daughters are now adults.
Based upon his inappropriate marital conduct, Craig stipulated that his wife should be granted divorce.
The Court of Appeals had awarded the ex-wife $1,250 per month in alimony until her death or re-marriage, in overturning the trial judge in Sumne County. She was also awarded lump-sum alimony to cover her attorneys’ fees and expenses.
The Supreme Court stated that both are still likely to suffer some reduction in their standard of living although the husband’s income was greater than the wife’s in recent years.
The wife’s claim that she was entitled to the same standard of living after the divorce as before was rejected by the justices.
According to the high court, Johanna was partially responsible for generating the fees that is why she was not entitled to the lump-sum alimony award of her attorney fees. And much of the expense was due to numerous, unnecessary filings resulting in unnecessary court hearings.
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