Alabama Property Division – Quit Your Whinin’

The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals has affirmed the property division in a divorce case, ruling that the trial court had ample evidence to support its ruling. The case of Diggs v. Diggs, Case No. 2030382 (Ala. Civ. App. April 15, 2005) involved a divorce after the spouses had lived together for eight years and separately for another two.

The trial court had awarded the marital home to the wife and ordered her to pay $20,000 to the husband within two years, together with interest at 5% per year. The husband appealed, arguing that the court’s judgment was inequitable because it awarded him only $20,000 from the equity in the house. The Appeals Court rejected this argument on the grounds that (a) property division doesn’t need to be equal, just equitable; (b) there was enough inconsistent evidence about the value of the house that the trial court could have determined based on the evidence that the husband got his fair share; (c) it was the husband who introduced the evidence indicating a lower value, so the husband cannot later object to a judgment relying on it; and (d) the husband got $166,000 in securities and the wife got none.

The husband also objected to the setting of interest at 5% rather than the statutory (Ala. Code § 8-8-10) rate of 12%. Relying on Morgan v. Morgan, 445 So. 2d 297 (Ala. Civ. App. 1983), the Appeals Court ruled that the wife would owe interest at 5% during the two-year period set by the trial court but that any delinquency after the court-ordered deadline would bear interest at 12% from the deadline until the amount was fully paid.

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