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Award of spousal support is warranted where there is a significant disparity in parties' post-divorce earnings

Holding that the trial court's decision to award the plaintiff-wife spousal support did not fall outside the range of principled outcomes and thus, was not an abuse of discretion, the court affirmed the judgment of divorce. The court noted that the defendant-husband did not actually dispute the accuracy of the trial court's factual findings - he contended that it did not use its findings to reach a favorable conclusion for him. The court concluded that the facts supported an award of spousal support. "Plaintiff and defendant had a long-term marriage" (22 years) and "each received significant assets from the division of marital property. Given the fact that defendant works and plaintiff does not, the parties would have a significant disparity in post-divorce earnings. Without spousal support, plaintiff receives approximately $563 a month in social security, and anticipates an increase after defendant turns 65, while defendant works fulltime and earns over $100,000 a year. Plaintiff is not young, has medical issues, and cannot work because of her health." Defendant argued that the trial court erred in its determination as to the parties' contributions to the marital estate. However, while he "may have provided the bulk of the parties' income, there was testimony that plaintiff worked until 2010, when the parties agreed that she would not look for another job in light of her health issues. After she stopped working, she testified that she took care of the parties' house, which included grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, and yard work, among other responsibilities. The trial court's findings were consistent with this testimony." As to defendant's claim that the assets awarded to plaintiff would provide her sufficient income to cover her needs, he failed to acknowledge that the court "has held that a spouse is not required to dissipate property awarded to meet daily needs when spousal support can be made available." The court did not agree with defendant that "plaintiff should be required to dissipate her share of the marital assets to provide for her monthly expenses" or that she was awarded more assets than defendant based on her separate property, as he suggested.


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