Tennessee deals blow to lifetime alimony


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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AVfM) — Today the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that a man does not have to pay lifetime alimony.

The case before the court involved Craig and Johanna Gonsewski, of Hendersonville, Tennessee. The couple had an acrimonious divorce In 2009. During that time the Tennessee Court of Appeals ordered Craig Gonsewski to pay Johanna $1,250 a month in alimony for the rest of her life or until she remarried.

Unlike most cases of lifetime alimony, which involve women who have sacrificed careers in order to raise children and are past the age of a career start up, Ms. Gonsewski was employed for the duration of her marriage, was in her 40’s at the time of divorce and was earning in excess of $72,000 per year as a state employee.

The ex-husband appealed the ruling of the lower court, asserting that they exceeded reason with the decision.

The ex-husband had “struck gold,” said Johanna Gonsewski’s attorney Ed Gross, because he was earning $137,000 per year, and contended the wife had “topped out,” in her profession.

That rationale did not stop the Tennessee Supreme Court  from unanimously ruling that the award of lifetime alimony was inappropriate, citing tha Johanna Gonsewski earned a robustl salary at a stable job and was also awarded substantial assets in the division of property.

Chief Justice Cornelia A. Clark wrote, “In many instances, the parties’ assets and incomes simply will not permit them to achieve the same standard of living after the divorce as they enjoyed during the marriage.”

The court also ruled that the Johanna was not entitled to the lump-sum alimony award of her attorney fees because she was partially responsible for generating them and had the financial resources to pay.

The ruling could have a direct impact on many alimony cases where the spouses are both employed or employable.

Gross stated on Friday that his client didn’t know about the decision, but predicted that “she will be extremely disappointed.”


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