Okay To Sock It To a Creep

The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals, in a rare moment of deference to the judgment of the trial court, has affirmed on appeal an alimony award after a marriage of less than 10 years. The parties in Turnbo v. Turnbo, Case No. 2040541 (Ala. Civ. App. March 3, 2005) married in early 1997 and divorced in early 2005. The Lauderdale Circuit Court awarded the wife alimony of $1500 per month for 24 months, even though the husband was already required to pay $1500 per month to his previous ex-wife.

The husband argued that he would be “financially crippled” by the trial court’s alimony award, but the appeals court reasoned that the trial court had before it evidence from which it could have concluded that the husband has resources sufficient to pay the alimony the trial court awarded.

In dividing property and awarding alimony, a trial court should consider “the earning abilities of the parties; the future prospects of the parties; their ages and health; the duration of the marriage; [the parties’] stations in life; the marital properties and their sources, values, and types; and the conduct of the parties in relation to the cause of the divorce.” Russell v. Russell, 777 So. 2d 731, 733 (Ala. Civ. App. 2000).

The appeals court acknowledged that the husband’s business was in bankruptcy but noted that, even through its bankruptcy, the business had continued paying the husband a salary. The appeals court also pointed out evidence of the husband’s mistreatment of the wife, from which the trial court could have “drawn inferences adverse to the husband as to the cause of the parties’ divorce.” (On more than one occasion, the husband had openly propositioned other women in the presence of his wife, and there was no evidence that she encouraged or appreciated this behavior).

In light of the foregoing, and given the deference owed by this court to the trial court’s credibility determinations and its decision as to how to weigh the evidence, we must conclude that the record contains sufficient evidence to support the trial court’s award to the wife of $ 1,500 per month in alimony for a limited period of 24 months.

The husband also challenged the trial court’s property division and an award of an attorney’s fee to the wife. On each issue, the appeals court deferred to the judgment of the trial court and affirmed its ruling.

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