A “Deadbeats Don’t Pay Interest” Rule?

I’m scratching my head on this one. Maybe you can help me understand. This is Horwitz v. Horwitz, Case No. 2040760 (Ala. Civ. App. May 19, 2006). It’s actually the third time the case has been before the Alabama Civil Court of Appeals, because of a history of controversy about the husband’s failure to make the payments the trial court had ordered him to make to or for the benefit of his divorced wife. The issue that has me bumfuzzled is the appeals court’s approach to interest due on the judment.

To make a long story a little less long, the trial court had awarded judgment in favor of the wife for unpaid alimony in the amount of $206,809, plus interest (and the trial court later clarified that interest accrued at 12%). Then the trial court found that the husband had presented “extenuating and mitigating circumstances as to his limited ability to pay,” so the trial court determined that $1,000 per month was a reasonable amount for the husband to pay each month.

The trial court said that the payments should stop on the remarriage or cohabitation of the wife, but the appeals court properly reversed this portion of the trial court’s ruling. Past due installments of alimony and child support payments become a debt of record and may be collected like any other judgment, so any requirement that the creditor remain unmarried to collect them is improper.

The issue I don’t yet understand is the way the appeals court dismissed the wife’s argument about the interest due on the judgment. Let’s think about it. Husband owes $206,809. The first year, he pays $1,000 per month, or $12,000. During that same year, he accrues 12% interest, or about $24,000. If the balance due accrues interest as the trial court ordered, that means the balance on the judgment increases each year rather than decreases.

The appeals court affirmed the trial court’s ruling, and it defended its decision by reference to Ala. Code § 8-8-11, which provides that in the case of a judgment for child or spousal support, any partial payment shall be applied first to the principal, and the remaining balance, if any, shall be applied to the interest.”

The appeals court stated that with payments of $1,000 per month, ($12,000 per year), the principal amount of $206,809 will be paid in 17.23 years. That is, the appeals court calculated that the interest the trial court ordered no longer applied. Why would that be?

5 comments

  1. John says:

    I AM A DEADBEAT DAD ACCORDING TO THE COURT–AND MY EX WIFE TELLS MY CHILDREN THAT EVERY DAY OF THEIR LIFE. Now my utilities may be turned of next week, I drive a junker automobile, and live in a 600sf hobble (and the rent is also overdue). But of my RN’s salary of nearly 60K, after Uncle Sam gets his share, $1235 in Child Support, $1000 in Alimony for my unfaithful wife to shack up with my neighbor, Maintenance of COURT ORDERED JOINT DEBT that was all transferred to me, I have less than $600 a month to live on. So in order to try (emphasis on try) to stay out of jail I juggle the best I can. And I was almost making it until the Leach she has working for her went after additional C.S./Alimony during the period I was paying under a temporary order, among other things–some of which are just bogus, but I don’t have the money to hire an attorney to fight it. And I will probably wind up having to pay the poor little woman’s legal fees to boot. In the three or four months that the lawyers were arguing over the terminology of the divorce decree I was paying out 65% MORE than the final judgment, and over 75% MORE than I was bringing home. Then when everything was settled, her lawyer wanted to double dip, and have me pay an additional $1335/Month for that same period since it had a different name attached to it. Bottom line: for four months, this DEADBEAT was obligated by the gracious and most Judicious Honorable Larry K Anderson to pay $6435/month from a net income of $2900-$3200. I assume that math is a required subject in Law school, so my only explanation is that he intended to break me for some perceived grievous sin. Or maybe he just KNEW I WAS A DEADBEAT.
    If you would just line us all up and shoot us we would probably be grateful. I know that the only thing that gets me out of bed each day is those four children. And I for one am disturbed by the notion that every dad should be made to suffer for the handful of lowlife’s out there that do exist. Not every woman is a crack addicted whore, but the percentages are probably very similar. The gender roles that existed 100 or even fifty years ago are gone. Our society is using the law to destroy the sanctity of marriage in so many ways besides legalizing same sex unions.

  2. Mike says:

    Feel sorry for you. Alimony is garbage and lawyers know it. No man should have to compensate a woman after divorce. Who cares about her standard of living? Is she going to do the same things for you anymore? Of course not.
    Divorce is about no longer supporting each other. So why should you have to financially support her anymore? If she is still willing to cook, clean, and still have relations with you, maybe. They always want to look at what the woman did in the marriage and reward her for it, not the man.
    You both do things to support each other. That doesn’t mean you stand their with your hand out to get compensated for them. That’s what the female side of marriage is now.
    Chances are you were the primary supporter. You put a roof over her head, clothed her, fed her, and paid her share of the bills. So she got amply compensated.
    If anyone should being paying support now for things done prior to divorce, it should be her. I think that’s the way all divorce cases should go. All women should pay. As far as a woman giving up her career, to bad. In cases like that it was her choice. No one should suffer for someone else’s choice. That’s the way things are now.
    She pursues a career and gets the job skills to succeed. If she stays at home (her choice), you pay because she gave up a chance for a career. Either way she makes money.
    I say cut and run. Don’t pay alimony. Funny how they and the legal system make a man pay when he makes more. When they make more they rarely have to pay. This is why the % of males marrying is nosediving. It has nothing to do with women putting careers on hold. Keep your head up.

  3. abandoned says:

    Whoa. Gotta get my two cents in here. I think if the woman is the one wanting out of the marriage without dang good reasons (adultry, abuse, drugs etc) then maybe the man should be allowed to bug off on the alimony. but in my case.. 14 years i built my whole life around his needs, his wants. He was my life, my sun and moon. Gave him his only child on earth. Was with him when he had nothing… and i do mean not even a home or decent car. We were partners. I did everything but work. waited on him hand and foot and cherished him while doing it.
    On christmas day he calls from work to say hey..i really don’t wanna be married anymore. I’m not cheating on you but im so very unhappy and i want a divorce.
    two weeks later find out he is not only cheating.. but with two women, one being his best friends wife. (skank)
    So now he has left us with no income. He would not hear of me working the 14 years we were together. no way. no how. So here we sit with all these bills, no income, no nothing and he doenst want me to ask for alimony???? I gave my everything. would have stepped in front of a moving bus, and still probably would if asked. But you can dang sure bet my lawyer will go for whatever i can get.. and will i feel guilty? hell no cause it will be spent on his son and keeping his son in the lifestyle he is accustomed to.
    Why can a man just shake off all his responsibilites and be free to live the high life while we sit here and watch our children struggle to learn how to adjust first off to thier hero being a zero, dad being gone, mom grieving and starving herself, and now we cant even go in the store and get a toy cause there is no money. Thats crap. He chose to make me dependant on him! He insisted i be a stay at home mother for HIS son. wouldnt hear of anything else. now he wants to scream at me to get a job. in todays economy with no work history whatsoever in the past 14 years????? where do you want me to work ? Mcdonalds???
    So yes in some cases Alimony should be paid!!!!!!

  4. give me a break says:

    OH PLEASE! Abandoned, did you actually read what you wrote? “he was my life, my sun, my moon….” YUK! That’s what is wrong with women and marriages today. I am a woman but I can assure you that no man is my life, my sun, my moon and I am surely not going to “wait on him hand and foot and cherish him while doing it”! Marriage isn’t slavery. Marriage is a two way street. Just like the other guys said, you give and you get. I think many men are punished because of the dead beat dad’s. I think many women hide behind the “poor, pitiful me” attitude and expect a man to pay for it. I think it’s crap that you state you are starving yourself! WHY? Over some man who you didn’t think you could live without? I’ll bet you are doing just fine without him now. So what if he didn’t want you to work, go to work now and earn your own way and stop expecting everyone else to feel sorry for you. You can get a job. You do deserve child support for your son but you do not deserve to be paid because your divorce is ending. Just like Mike said, you had a home, cars, food, clothing, etc all paid for by your husband. It’s now time you pay for your own way. What is wrong with McDonald’s? You might learn that you can actually respect yourself if you get off your butt and try to pay your own way instead of complaining that your “sun and moon” no longer does it for you. It’s so typical of a woman like you to sit back and condem those who work hard at McDonald’s to make a living while you pay your attorney to go after someone else to pay your way.
    By the way…..YOU CHOSE TO MAKE YOURSELF DEPENDANT ON HIM!! Maybe it’s time for a change.

  5. Sorry got to comment says:

    I agree in part she should get a job, but and I do mean but, if she cared for this man this long and that is all the thanks she gets honey go for all you can get!! Adultry needs to have a price put on it whether it be the man or the woman just to be a deterent. Grant you I do not think alimony should be paid if it is a mutual break down of the marriage but when you have young children involved and create a breach of contract through infidelity yes the party should pay!! So i say go for all you can get and use that money to go back to school to specialize in a trade you are comfortable with and good luck to you.

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