Alimony and Protection from Abuse in Lauderdale County, Alabama

This case is a perfect example of the type of tension, aggression, anxiety and fear that a divorce can cause. I write about it all the time. The good news or silver lining in these type of situations is that it will eventually end and you can have a fresh start. This case referred to as Poole v. Poole, originated in Lauderdale County, Alabama and was appealed.

The parties were married in August 1986. They had two children who had reached the age of majority. The wife claimed that in 2012, the husband began engaging in erratic behavior and he accused her of having affairs. The husband took her automobile away, he locked her out of the house at night, and that he threatened to break her neck.

The wife moved in with her parents. The husband approached the wife, gave her uncontested divorce papers, and told her that he would make her wish she was dead if she did not sign the papers. Based on that incident, the wife obtained a protection from abuse order.

The husband did not have lawyer during the trial. the husband deeded the marital residence back to the mortgage holder without the wife’s consent. He sent a letter to the wife’s attorney before so doing telling the wife that she would have to make the January 2013 mortgage payment. The wife filed for emergency relief but there is no indication that any action was taken on that motion. The wife estimated that the parties lost $35,000 in equity as a result of the husband’s actions.

The husband had a pension through Wise Alloys, LLC, which would pay him $175 per month when he reached age 55. He had retirement with Alcoa that he cashed out before the divorce action was commenced. The wife testified that the husband may have retirement with another former employer, Reynolds Aluminum, although there was no evidence as to the present value. The husband had been contributing money to a 401(k) account with his current employer, but was vague about the balance.

In its final judgment, the court awarded the wife one-half of all of the husband’s retirement plans. It ordered the husband to pay $17,500 as alimony in gross to satisfy the wife’s equity interest in the marital residence and $1,200 per month in periodic alimony. The trial court found the husband to be in contempt for transferring the property and for five other unspecified acts and it sentenced him to five days in jail for each act. As part of the divorce decree, the court extended the protection from abuse order to make it “permanent.” The husband appealed.

Affirmed in part; reversed in part. (1) The husband argued that the division of his retirement accounts was improper because there was no evidence as to present value. The trial court received evidence from which it could conclude that the balance in the 401(k) was $2,337. The Alcoa account had been cashed out and had a zero balance. Without the presentation of said evidence, the wife was not entitled to any portion of those two accounts. This portion of the trial court’s judgment is due to be reversed. (2) The husband challenged the award of periodic alimony and alimony in gross.

If you are considering divorce, please contact a lawyer about your alimony rights. Anytime you are facing a physical or verbally abusive spouse, that is the time to file for divorce. Call a lawyer to file a (PFA) Protection from Abuse.

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