Posted by: koherston | October 7, 2010

Ghorashi-Bajestani v. Bajestani

Facts:  Wife filed for divorce after seven years of marriage. Wife was an engineer who left the workforce to become a homemaker after the parties’ child was born after one year of marriage. Husband, also an engineer, earned a substantial annual income. After classifying and dividing their marital property and setting child support, the trial court awarded Wife transitional alimony of $6600 per month for six years followed by $4500 per month for three years.  After that nine year period ended, Wife was to receive $2500 per month as periodic alimony, which alimony would only terminate on the death of either party. In other words, after this short marriage Husband was obligated to pay alimony to Wife for the rest of her life. Each party raised multiple issues on appeal but it is this author’s opinion that alimony is the only issue of note.

The Court of Appeals reversed and modified the trial court’s ruling on alimony.

The Court began with the award of transitional alimony, noting

[t]he evidence preponderates against the Trial Court’s finding that Wife needs longer to adjust to the economic consequences of the divorce than the parties were married and for longer than Wife did not work in her chosen profession. Given the facts and circumstances in this case, including Wife’s professional training and the significant assets she received in the property division, the award of transitional alimony for nine years for what was only an eight year marriage is inappropriate.

The Court then substantially modified the transitional alimony award as follows:

Given the facts and circumstances of this case as discussed, we find that an award of transitional alimony in the amount of $6,600 a month for six years is appropriate to allow Wife to adjust to the economic consequences of the divorce. We, therefore, modify the award of transitional alimony to be in the amount of $6,600 per month lasting only six years.

The Court then turned to the periodic alimony (a.k.a. alimony in futuro) award.

The Trial Court also found that “even though Wife has the education and training as an engineer, it is unlikely that she would ever be rehabilitated to an earning capacity approaching that of [Husband].”

We respectfully disagree. The record reveals that Wife was forty-one years old at the time of trial, speaks three languages, and has no physical or mental limitations which would prevent her from working. She holds the same baccalaureate degree as does Husband and is a licensed civil engineer. Wife was able in the past to obtain a job working in her chosen field. The evidence further shows that there are job openings within Wife’s chosen field in the community where Wife lives. Wife received almost $2.6 million in assets from the distribution of marital property plus one-half of Husband’s TVA pension earned during the eight year marriage and received no debt.

It is pure speculation to say that it is unlikely that Wife could reach an earning capacity approaching that of Husband given Wife’s age, education, and qualifications. Wife is younger than Husband and Wife has almost the same educational background as Husband does. Wife has no acceptable reason for not working in her chosen profession.

The evidence preponderates against a finding that Wife has a need for alimony in futuro extending beyond the six years of transitional alimony. After considering all of the relevant factors, we conclude that the award of alimony in futuro was inappropriate in this case. We, therefore, vacate the award of alimony in futuro.

Ghorashi-Bajestani v. Bajestani (Tenn. Ct. App. Aug. 24, 2010).

Information provided by K.O. Herston, Tennessee Divorce Lawyer.


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