Former Husband Appeals Lower Court Alimony Decision

Former Husband Appeals Lower Court Alimony Decision

In the First District Court of Appeals, a former husband has filed an appeal seeking review of a final divorce judgment and subsequent denial of his motion for rehearing and/or reconsideration. The man argued that the trial court made a mistake in failing to make the necessary findings in support of a $3,500 per month alimony award to his former wife, which he claimed he cannot afford and which exceeds his ex-wife’s needs. He also challenged the portion of the judgment ordering him to pay $11,500 in attorney fees for his ex-wife, as well as the court’s equitable distribution decisions.

The former wife agreed that there was an error in the distribution of debts and assets, and as a result the court reversed and remanded the final judgment for redistribution of marital debts and assets in accordance with section 61.075 of the Florida Statutes. Because this portion of the judgment was reversed and remanded, the alimony and attorney’s fees were reversed and remanded as well.

Under the law, the trial courts are directed to make a factual determination as to whether either party has an actual need for alimony and whether the other party has the ability to pay. The Appeals Court agreed that the trial court did not adequately support their alimony award with evidence or findings, and that the amount in question was excessive.

The trial court determined the $3,500 alimony award based on the former husband’s seven-day work week with overtime and holidays during the 33-year marriage. Although the court determined that the husband should not have to be required to work seven days per week, it contradicted itself by calculating the award based on his former salary rather than on the husband’s new, reduced work schedule recommended by his doctor. Since his income was reduced and overtime was no longer an available option for income in the future, the Appeals Court determined that he should not have to be responsible for paying the $3,500/month alimony.

In addition, the husband had been ordered to pay for his former wife’s COBRA health insurance coverage without knowing the expected cost of the coverage. Together with the $3,500 per month in alimony, the marital home, and half of her former husband’s retirement funds, the wife received substantial assets that put her on roughly an equal footing with her ex-husband to be able to pay her own attorney fees.

Do you have questions about divorce? Contact a Jacksonville divorce lawyer at Owenby Law, P.A. today.


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