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The Interplay of Alimony and Property Division: Jesus Hernandez v. Maria Rosenda Rodriguez

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In a case highlighting the interplay between alimony and property division in divorce judgments, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals recently heard an appeal arising from Shelby County. This case, Jesus Hernandez v. Maria Rosenda Rodriguez, addresses the statutory requirements for awarding alimony, while also recognizing the way alimony interacts with property division to create an altogether equitable distribution of assets.

On July 13, 2023, the trial court granted a divorce to the husband and the wife. As part of the divorce, the trial court gave the parties joint legal custody of their child, with the wife being awarded sole physical custody. The husband was ordered to pay $585 in monthly child support, and $3,000 per month in periodic alimony. The husband appealed the alimony award, and the wife cross-appealed on the division and property and award of child support, leading to this decision from the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals.

The statute governing periodic alimony in Alabama is §30-2-57 of the Alabama Code. Under this statute, the court may grant alimony only when (1) a party lacks a separate estate or the separate estate is insufficient to preserve the lifestyle maintained during the marriage, (2) the other party has the ability to supply without undue hardship, and (3) the circumstances make the grant of alimony equitable. The statute stipulates that the court must make express findings of these factors to grant an alimony award. Because the trial court did not make these findings, the requirements of §30-2-57 are not met, and the Court reversed the judgment in this respect.

Addressing the wife’s arguments, the Court noted that alimony and property division and interrelated, and therefore must be considered together on appeal. In reversing the trial court’s judgment on these points, the Court asserted that all sources of income must be considered, meaning that, on remand, the trial court had to consider the income the husband generated from side jobs in addition to the income he had originally submitted for property division purposes. Additionally, the Court found ambiguity in the wording about the child’s health-care insurance coverage, so the Court instructed the trial court to clarify the coverage on remand.

Jesus Hernandez v. Maria Rosenda Rodriguez demonstrates the interconnected nature of the various components of divorce judgments. While the overarching goal of property division is equity, certain requirements must be expressly met to justify awards of alimony. It is also important to remember that, in the interest of equity, all income sources must be considered to fairly divide property.

If you have a Federal Criminal case, a State Criminal case, a Municipal Case or a Family Law case, contact Joe Ingram or Ingram Law LLC at 205-335-2640. Get Relief * Get Results.

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