Bresky Law Obtains Affirmance of Alimony and Attorney’s Fees Awards in Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage
October 28, 2020
Bresky Law recently obtained affirmance of a trial court’s alimony and fee awards in favor of our client in a final judgment of dissolution of marriage. The firm also prevailed on the client’s cross-appeal of the trial court’s child support ruling.
The appeal arose from a proceeding to dissolve a twenty-two year marriage. The trial court held a final hearing over three days on issues that included equitable distribution, timesharing of the minor child and child support, the appropriate amount of alimony, and attorney’s fees. Following the final hearing, the trial court entered an amended final judgment that awarded the wife substantial monthly permanent periodic alimony as well as attorney’s fees. The trial court also ordered child support based upon a 50-50 timesharing schedule.
The husband appealed the final judgment, asserting that the trial court had committed error in the manner in the award of alimony. The husband argued that the award exceeded his ability to pay, that the court failed to make required findings, and had erred in calculating the wife’s need for alimony. The husband also maintained that the trial court erred in awarding the wife attorney’s fees, claiming that the wife did not have a need for fees due to the funds she would receive in equitable distribution as proceeds from the sale of the marital home.
Bresky Law represented the wife in the appeal. We argued that the husband had sufficient income to pay the award, as the calculations of his financial obligations were skewed to overstate the amount of the monthly obligations, that many obligations were temporary until the former marital home sold, and that the husband did not pay the full taxes on his annual income. We also argued that the trial court did not err in calculating the wife’s need where the court arrived at the need amount by removing or reducing a significant number of the expenses listed on wife’s Financial Affidavit and arrived at a need amount within the range that wife’s CPA testified was appropriate.
As to fees, we explained that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in declining to force the wife to invade her assets from equitable distribution to pay her attorneys, and that a party need not be completely without ability to pay attorney fees in order to be awarded fees. Finally, we argued on cross-appeal that the trial court erred in granting child support on a 50-50 timesharing schedule where the undisputed evidence showed that the husband could not exercise 50-50 timesharing due to his travel schedule.
The district court of appeal issued a written opinion in which it affirmed the trial court’s alimony and attorney’s fee awards in favor of our client without comment. The appeals court also agreed with our argument on cross-appeal regarding the child support ruling. The appeals court reversed the child support award and remanded for a determination of actual timesharing exercised by the husband. This favorable result for our client preserved the most important aspects of the final judgment and obtained additional relief for her by way of cross-appeal. The court also granted our motion for appellate attorney’s fees, allowing wife to seek an award of appellate attorney’s fees in the trial court.