In a recent dissolution of marriage action, the Court ordered a husband to pay to his wife unallocated alimony and child support for a period of two and one-half years, followed by allocated alimony and child support for a period of six years. The parties originally met in 1998 and were married for 13 years. They were the parents of two children, both of whom were minors at the time of trial. The parties blamed each other for the breakdown of the marriage, with the wife accusing the husband of engaging in verbally and physically abusive behavior, and the husband accusing the wife of being unfaithful. Despite the parties’ accusations, the Court ultimately found that neither was at greater fault for the marital breakdown.
At the time of trial, the wife was forty-one years of age. She had suffered from asthma for approximately three years and also had heart spasms, though neither condition prevented her from working. During the marriage, she earned between $30,000 and $40,000 per year until the birth of the parties’ second child. According to the wife, at that point, the husband asked her to cut back so she could care for the children. Based on her earnings history, the Court found the wife had an earning capacity of $40,000 per year.
The husband was fifty-two years of age and generally in good health. At one point during the marriage he earned approximately $100,000 per year as a car salesman. However, at the time of trial he was working as a general manager at a local dealership earning $211,120 gross annually, or $4,060 gross per week.
Based on its findings, the Court awarded the wife unallocated alimony and child support in the amount of $1,000 per week for a period of two and one-half years, followed by periodic alimony in the amount of $250 per week for a period of six years, and child support in the amount of $500 per week until the parties’ children graduate from high school, or attain the age of 19, whichever occurs first. The Court designated both the unallocated award and the allocated periodic alimony as non-modifiable as to duration, and also allowed the wife a safe harbor, permitting her to earn up to $40,000 per year before the husband could seek a downward modification to his alimony obligation.
By: Michael D. DeMeola, Esq.
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