Saturday, August 18, 2007

Case Law Development: Modifying Alimony in the Golden Years

After an 18 year marriage dissolved, Husband was ordered to pay alimony to Wife.  Twenty-six years later, Husband (now 67 years old and in poor health) retires and sells his entire interest in his business, leaving him with social security benefits as his sole income.  In response to Husband's motion to modify alimony, the trial court ordered that his alimony be reduced from $ 78,000 to $ 1 per year.

The Supreme Court of Connecticut, noting that it is a rare case in which it will reverse a trial court's decision to modify alimony, found that the trial court's focus on Husband's poor health and reduced income was too narrow.

We conclude that, in reducing the defendant's alimony obligation from $ 78,000 to $ 1 per year, the trial court improperly focused on the fact that the defendant's monthly income had been reduced from $ 14,880.14 to $ 1640, and failed to give proper consideration to the defendant's other financial resources. In addition, although the trial court properly considered the fact that the defendant had retired and was in poor health, it failed to give due weight to the plaintiff's health and financial situation. Accordingly, we conclude that, although the trial court properly determined that there had been a substantial change in circumstances justifying a modification of the defendant's alimony obligation, the trial court abused its discretion in determining the amount of that modification. We recognize that a finding of abuse of discretion in making financial awards in marital dissolution cases is very rare..... Nevertheless, in light of the extreme nature  of the modification order and the trial court's misconception and misapplication of the statutory criteria, we are compelled to conclude that this is one of those rare cases.

Simms v. Simms, 2007 Conn. LEXIS 321  (August 14, 2007)
Opinion online (Last visited August 18, 2007 bgf)

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Comments

This case is a tough call. Typically alimony boils down to two simple factors: ability to pay and need to receive. In this case, the Justices of the Supreme Court ordered that the trial court judge apply a broader criteria.

Posted by: Divorce Attorney Oklahoma City | Jul 17, 2011 6:50:51 PM

This case is a tough call. Typically alimony boils down to two simple factors: ability to pay and need to receive. In this case, the Justices of the Supreme Court ordered that the trial court judge apply a broader criteria.

Posted by: Divorce Attorney Oklahoma City | Jul 17, 2011 6:50:53 PM

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