Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Alimony Deficit

On Tuesday, the Mississippi Court of Appeals decided Layton v. Layton located here.  The Court did a detailed discussion of what constitutes a deficit for alimony.  The Court found as follows:

"It  is  true that alimony should not be considered unless the property division results in a “deficit” to one spouse.  See, e.g.,  Seymour v. Seymour, 960 So. 2d 513, 519 (¶16) (Miss. Ct. App. 2006).   But the “deficit” to which our cases refer is not one spouse’s receipt of assets with a lesser net  value than  those  allocated  to  the  other  spouse.    Rather,  the  question  is  whether  the  spouse seeking  alimony  is  left  “with  a  deficit  with  respect  to  having  sufficient  resources  and  assets to  meet his  or  her needs  and  living  expenses.”    Jackson  v. Jackson,  114  So.  3d  768,  777 (¶22) (Miss. Ct. App. 2013) (emphasis added); accord,  e.g.,  Pecanty  v. Pecanty, 97 So. 3d 1263, 1266 (¶¶19-20) (Miss. Ct. App. 2012); Deborah H. Bell, Mississippi Family Law § 9.01[4][b], at 235(2005).

Thus, an unequal division of property does not preclude an award of alimony when the  chancellor  finds  that  alimony  is  warranted based  on  an  analysis  of  the  Armstrong  factors, including  the  parties’  respective  incomes  and  expenses,  fault,  and  the  length  of  the  marriage. See  Pierce  v.  Pierce,  132  So.  3d  553,  565  (¶30)  (Miss.  2014)  (“[T]he  chancellor  must consider  the  [Armstrong]  factors  in  determining  whether alimony  should  be  awarded .  .  .  .”).  For example,  on comparable facts, we affirmed an alimony  award even though the division of  marital  property  greatly  favored  the  wife,  the  husband’s  income  was  significantly  less  than John’s, and the wife’s income was slightly  more than Amanda’s.   See Seymour,  960   So. 2d at  519-20  (¶¶13-17).    The  primary  financial  consideration  was  not  that  the  wife  was  awarded more  valuable  marital  property  but  that,  despite  “her  share  of  the  marital  property,”  her  assets and post-divorce income were insufficient to cover her basic monthly expenses.  See id. at 520."

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