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Court Reverses Case Alimony was insufficient for Wife's Standard of Living


Divorce cases are never easy. Especially when parties have been married for more than 20 years and have spent the better part of the marriage building a life and acquiring assets. This is a good case that shows the inequities of the parties when it comes time to get a divorce. Here, the husband makes more than $1,500,000 a year and the wife earns approximately $40,000 a year. When you find yourself in this situation, it is important to hire a good divorce lawyer to show the court that the husband is capable of paying alimony to the wife.

In the case of Klamer v. Klamer, a divorce case from Shelby County, Alabama, the parties were married in 1998 and the wife filed for divorce in 2016.  At the time of the trial the husband was 62 and the wife was 52.

The wife had a Master’s degree and had taught school for 11 years. She operated a boutique and worked as a website developer, as well. The husband owned a business known as Medicare Advantage Specialist (MAS). The husband valued his interest in the business at $1.6 million.

At the trial, the wife had an expert testify as to the value of the business, but the trial court explained it gave little weight to the calculation of the expert witness. During the trial, testimony presented by the parties owned three parcels of real property.  The marital residence was valued at $850,000, a lake house valued at $500,000, and farmland valued at $750,000. 

The judgment awarded all of the real property as well as the husband's business to him.  The wife was awarded approximately $2,000,000 to be paid in a lump sum of $500,000 and the remainder to be paid in monthly increments of $10,000. Further, the husband was ordered to pay rehabilitative alimony in the amount of $5,000 per month for 60 months. The husband was also ordered to pay $30,000 in attorney fees and $10,900 for necessary litigation costs.  The wife appealed and the husband cross appealed.

 On appeal, the wife argued that the trial court was not correct in the value of the husband's business. However, the record shows that this calculation was admitted into evidence, but the trial court gave very little weight to the evidence of the expert witness. The appellate court held that was within the trial court's decision.

Secondly, the appellate court found the alimony not enough even coupled with her large property settlement.   The alimony award was inequitable and deprived her of means to maintain her marital standard of living.  There was evidence at the trial that the parties enjoyed a luxurious standard of living during the marriage. The wife testified that she traveled to expensive resorts and then she routinely shopped without even looking at price tags.

The wife had requested alimony of $30,000 per month.  The husband however argued that the wife’s monthly budget included unnecessary expenses.  A vocational expert testified that the wife was capable of earning between approximately $34,000 and $66,000 annually. 

In distinction, the husband earned $1.5 million annually and even with the obligations imposed upon him by the divorce judgment, the appellate court ruled he should have had sufficient disposable income to make periodic alimony payments.  The court also noted to the inequities of an award of periodic alimony noting that the parties struggled at the beginning of the marriage and the wife work for the company at times even without compensation. The alimony award was due to be reversed as well as the property division. 

If you are married and seeking a divorce, contact Ingram Law LLC at (205) 335-2640 and let us help you.

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