Woman Contests Judge’s Decision To Make Her Pay Permanent Alimony
- June 10, 2014
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In the New Jersey case Sanchez v. Sanchez, a woman appealed from a trial court judge’s issuance of a dual judgment of divorce that ordered her to pay permanent alimony to her husband. Following the parties’ divorce trial, Judge Patricia A. Roe, J.S.C., entered a dual judgment of divorce ordering the Plaintiff wife to pay permanent alimony to the Defendant husband in the sum of $200 per week, each party was to retain their own retirement or investment accounts, and the Plaintiff was to pay the Defendant $2,500 in counsel fees from her share of the proceeds of the sale of the marital residence. The Plaintiff appealed from this decision and the Appellate Division affirmed the decision of the lower court. The parties were married in 1996 and had one child, a daughter born in 1998. The parties separated in 2010 and the Defendant moved from Jackson to Jersey City. The Plaintiff remained in the marital home with the parties’ daughter and her elderly father. The Plaintiff had earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from a university in the Philippines and worked as a neonatal intensive care unit nurse at a hospital earning $92,000 a year. In 2009 and 2010 she filed separate tax returns and claimed her daughter and mortgage interest as deductions – which she did not share with the Defendant. Plaintiff admitted that she took a $28,000 loan from her 401K plan and $6,500 loan from a home equity line of credit to cover her living expenses. The Defendant earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from a university in the Philippines. In 2009 he earned nearly $65,000 which reflected his highest annual compensation. Soon after he became unemployed and was unable to find work. He received unemployment compensation until his benefits expired and his total income for 2011 was $20,000. In her appeal the Plaintiff argues that the judge erred in awarding the Defendant permanent alimony as both had worked throughout the marriage and that her income did not “significantly exceed” the Defendant’s income. The Appellate Court held that: “the goal of a proper alimony award is to assist the supported spouse in achieving a lifestyle reasonably comparable to the one enjoyed while living with the supporting spouse during the marriage.” Steneken v. Steneken, 183 N.J. 290, 299 (2005). “When determining whether an award of alimony is warranted, a trial judge must issue ‘specific findings on the evidence’ presented, N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(c), weighing the objective standards delineated in N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(b).” Clark v. Clark, 429 N.J. Super. 61, 73 (App. Div. 2012). In its disposition, the Appellate Court found that the trial court judge’s conclusions were amply supported by the evidence presented at trial and therefore her decision was affirmed. If you anticipate that you may want to petition the court for a modification of your alimony award or any other relief that was awarded in a final judgment of divorce it is imperative that you seek out the advice of an experienced attorney before moving forward. For more information about divorce, alimony, child support, equitable distribution, or other family law matters in New Jersey visit DarlingFirm.com. This blog is for informational purposes and in no way is intended to replace the advice of an attorney.