Dispute over Accrual of Postjudgment Interest in Bradley County, Tennessee Divorce: St. John-Parker v. Parker

Facts: In the divorce, Wife was awarded a lump-sum payment of $508,000 in marital property. Husband appealed. The Court of Appeals sent the case back to the trial court to reconsider the equitable division after changing certain assets from separate to marital property.

back in timeOn remand, the trial court awarded Wife an additional $323,000 as her equitable portion of the marital property.

Wife asked the trial court to award postjudgment interest back to the date of divorce. The trial court denied Wife’s request, instead awarding postjudgment interest from the date of its ruling on remand.

Wife appealed.

On Appeal: The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court.

Tennessee Code Annotated § 47-14-122 requires that interest shall be computed on every judgment from the day the judgment is made. The language is mandatory. The purpose of postjudgment interest is to compensate the party for being deprived of compensation for the loss from the time between the award and its receipt.

Tennessee courts that have addressed questions of when postjudgment interest should be calculated after an appeal have generally divided the situations into two categories:

  • where the appellate court has changed the amount awarded, postjudgment interest is calculated from the date of the original judgment;
  • where the appellate court vacates the judgment and remands the case back to the trial court for reconsideration, postjudgment interest runs from the time the trial court enters its judgment on remand, not the date of the original judgment.

Wife did not dispute that this case falls within the second category of cases, i.e., those where postjudgment interest is calculated from the date of the trial court’s judgment on remand.

The Court ruled the trial court was correct in refusing to award postjudgment interest all the way back to the date of divorce:

[T]he award of postjudgment interest is mandatory. [Tennessee courts have] made clear that the date of the judgment on remand is the date on which the trial court “returned the verdict” for the purposes of § 47-14-122. This statement leaves no room for the trial court to reach its own conclusion of the proper date upon which postjudgment interest accrues.

The trial court’s judgment was affirmed.

St. John-Parker v. Parker (Tennessee Court of Appeals, Eastern Section, March 19, 2018).

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K.O. Herston is a family-law attorney in Knoxville, Tennessee whose practice is devoted exclusively to family law, including divorce, child custody, child support, alimony, prenuptial agreements, and other aspects of family law.

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