When you are a party in a divorce case, or any court case, the situation as a whole can be overwhelming. With so many issues in play, you or your attorney if you have one must pay attention to every detail. A recent case, Holland v. Holland, in the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals showed just how important that attention to detail can be.
In this case, the husband and wife had been married for thirty-two years before the husband filed for divorce. After hearing oral testimony, the trial court entered a judgment of divorce. The court made the wife responsible for all of her debt, gave her the house, a car, the money in her bank accounts, and some insurance money. Everything else went to the husband, and he was also ordered to pay the wife $115,000 in a lump sum of alimony and pay her $3,000 attorney’s fees. However, the value of almost all of the property in this case was argued over.
On appeal, the wife made several arguments. First, she argued that the trial court’s division of the property was wrong. Because the property values the court used were wrong, she argued, the court should have to hold a new trial to fix that issue. However, the court of appeals found that there was not enough evidence to show that the trial court’s decision was so wrong to make a new trial necessary.
Second, the wife argued that the husband should have been made to pay her alimony on a regular basis, not just one lump sum payment. Although the wife earned more money than the husband, she argued that he still should be made to make regular payments. The appeals court noted that she originally asked for either a lump sum payment or regular payments, and since she received one, her argument was unsupported.
Finally, the wife argued that because the husband could eventually make more money than her, the trial court should have “reserved,” or delayed decision on, the award of regular alimony payments. That said, the wife made a serious misstep in the trial. Nothing in the record of what happened in the trial court showed that she had requested the decision be reserved. Alabama courts of appeals generally require that you cannot present a brand-new argument on appeal. As a result, the appeals court found in favor of the husband.
The lesson to be learned here is that attention to detail at the trial level matters. With more persuasively presented evidence, maybe the wife could have received more of the property in the divorce. Most importantly, the wife should not have waited until the appeals court to argue that the decision on alimony should be reserved. Knowing how and when to make arguments is something that good divorce lawyers have to know how to do.
Having an experienced divorce attorney on your side can be very important. If you are involved in a divorce case, contact, INGRAM LAW LLC at (205) 656-0044. Get Relief | Get Results.