New Case Law – Maintenance Support

On May 25, 2011, the Oregon Court of Appeals decided Abrams v. Abrams.

This decision reinforces the importance of allowing both parties in a divorce case to continue to support the lifestyle that existed during the marriage.  The trial court had awarded the wife $750 per month in transitional support for a period of 24 months to allow the wife, who had been a homemaker for most of the 30-year marriage, to return to the workforce and receive additional vocational training.  The Court of Appeals, considering the length of the marriage, the disparate education, career stability, and earning potential of the parties, and the standard of living during the marriage, awarded the wife indefinite maintenance support of $1,800 per month. The court recognized self-sufficiency as an important goal, but also stressed that the level of self-sufficiency required is related to the standard of living during the marriage and the ability of each party to achieve that standard of living.  In a case in which one party is unlikely to achieve a level of self-sufficiency that would allow her to support a lifestyle comparable to that which existed during the marriage, it is appropriate to award that party indefinite maintenance support.

The entire opinion can be found here:  http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/A142232.htm.

 

About Daniel Margolin

Daniel Margolin is a founding partner of Stephens & Margolin LLP and a Portland, Oregon native. His practice focuses on all aspects of family law litigation. Dan applies his litigation expertise to provide additional expertise when assisting clients with Family Law Appeals and Collaborative Divorce matters. To find out more or contact Daniel Margolin, visit Stephens & Margolin LLP
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5 Responses to New Case Law – Maintenance Support

  1. Derek Abrams (Husband) says:

    Dan,

    Unfortunately the Appellate Court failed to look at all the facts. Though the marriage was 28-years, the wife was living a lifestyle (per wife’s admission) that was unhealthy to the sanctity of the marriage covenant. She was also pursing a dream of to become a professional poker player for the last 7-years of the marriage. Previously wife ran a successful Commercial/Residential Cleaning company for 10-years and is quite business savvy and excellent in sales and with finances. Husband supported, encouraged and provided for a new trade/career training of wife’s choosing to wife in 2002 of which the Wife obtained her certification and licensing as a Nail Technician and Hair Stylist (Oregon & Nevada). Husband also provided wife in the divorce with an initial 2/3 of the Estate ($175,000) in cash in addition to and including 50% of both retirement accounts. The $750/24-month Alimony was actually less than the husband’s offer of $1,500/mo for 3-years and $750/mo for 2-years , adding to the 7-years or retraining and transitional support already provided. To which wife’s attorney countered with $3,000/month for life. The wife left the marriage and home (actually packed up and left) in 2005 to live in Nevada. She has been residing at the same address in Nevada with another man for the last 6+ years, so it would seem “cohabitation” exist. Wife is in good health and quite capable of starting a new business or secure reasonable employment given that her room & board are covered by her cohabitation with this other man. The whole purpose the husband was trying to do since 2001 was to help the wife, who broke down emotionally wanting to establish her own identity to have something to call her own. Now most people might read that statement as a “weakening portrayal”, but what it really represents is that the husband made it is purpose to help not just his wife, but another human being who is searching for their identity – the most root of all desires to state “I exist!” If you have never questioned your own identity or mere existence, then its difficult for one to understand what that feels like or how profoundly important that is to a human being.

    So he provided for her retraining, maintained the home, life duties, finances, medical coverage and full time employment the entire marriage. The husband never required her to work, and never prohibitor her from working or pursuing anything, including the lifestyle she choose the last 7-years. So while it may seem to the average person that this was a clear justification of Maintenance Support, the maintenance support began on day one of the 28-year marriage and certain was evident in the last 7-years and even more so the last 3-years when she lived in a different state full time.

    There is a great deal more to this story that unfortunately what is admissible in court or that I wanted entered in the records. My whole goal was to help this person whom I have cared for all our married life to become whomever and whatever she wanted to become and to this day after all of the expense and emotional abuse and challenges I have had to go through it comes down to a judgment that I cannot meet.

    So here’s a guy, one of the last few decent men in the world who do all they can for their family and the one person whom he thought he could trust above anyone else, only to find himself portrayed/implied in the court records and on your blog as “an evil selfish dead-beat x-husband” – when in reality I have been to complete opposite.

    But no one wants to hear that story. No one really cares that once in awhile there is a decent guy who is just trying to do the right thing.

    I hope my comments make it to your post, I think it’s important that people look at all the facts. But life I said, unfortunately all the facts were not or could not be presented in this case, and not because Oregon is a “no-fault State”, but rather because I believed I was in a “covenant marriage sanctified by G-d” but unfortunately she was in a civil (contract) marriage.

    And no, I’m not a saint, I am however a decent guy. I don’t fault her for choosing a life that best meets her needs, I just feel that equity was served. I do wish her a happy life and I do hope that G-d blesses her abundantly. Deep down she’s a good person. Like I told her this last weekend on the phone, “No I don’t think you are a horrible person, I do think some of your choices are horrible choices because the have a terrible impact on my life.” Dan I do hope someday to marry again, to live the remaining years of my life in a wonderful loving and G-d centered relationship.

    The judgment by the Appellate Court is in effect an additional $384,000 judgment (given a 15-year term and other costs), of which the wife already received $250,000 for a total of $634,000 leaving the husband with a current net-worth today $53,299. Bear in mind you can start a SubWay Franchise (the nations #1 Franchise) for $15,000 Franchise Fee and as little as $78,600 investment.

    In my most recent budget which I just completed before I discovered your post, in where I do my best to meet this judgment by raising my W4 allowances to eleven and not making any contribution to my retired from now until I retire (15-years) leaves me with $78.13/month to cover critical unbudgeted categories such as major medical expense. So where is the equity? Do you truly believe that there was justice served in this case? Did you really investigate the facts and investigate the anomalies in those facts? I just can see how a person of reason intelligence and with clear footing on what is fair and just would not make this kind of ruling but also see this kind of ruling as equitable.

    Am I bitter, no.
    Am I disappointed in the system, a bit.
    Will it impact my life and retirement, possibly – but that is a long ways away.

    My goal is to not let these poor decisions by others and the greed of others distract my walk with G-d and the humanity I feel for others. In the end we cannot take anything with us, so all we can do is enjoy the blessings we do have.

    Thank you for making your post and I hope my comments get posted “as is”.

    da/June 2, 2-11 @ 3:45AM

  2. Derek Abrams (Husband) says:

    Couple of typos and corrections:

    …I just feel that equity was [NOT] served.
    …and never [prohibited] her from working…
    …horrible choices because [they] have a terrible impact on my life.
    …not making any contribution to my [retirement] from now…
    …I just can [not] see how a person …

    I just can [not] see how a person of reason[able] intelligence and with [a] clear footing on what is fair and just would [omit: not] make this kind of ruling [or even] [omit: also] see this kind of ruling as equitable.

    da/June 2, 2011 @ 4:04AM

  3. According to me the main purpos of this maintenance support is how you can live your lifestyle after divorce. I agree with this post. Keep sharing.

  4. Derek Abrams (Husband) says:

    Utah,
    After the Appeal I had a limited time to file for a Supreme Court Review, yet this had to occur before the Lower Court Judge could review the Appellet Court’s “Affirm with Oppinion” ruling. The whole process is not well documented for the layman, and does seems inconsitent on the surfice. Nonetheless, I filed and the Supreme Court Denied the Request for Review. So now I am waiting for the Lower Court’s decision of the Appellate Courts Opinion. I did submit to the Lower Courts an Affidavit detailing my current Net Worth and Cash-Flow contraints, I am upside down on a vehicle and mortgage, in fact on paper I look bankrupt, yet if I don’t move much financially, I can just maintain a tight, but doable fiscal sustainability, assuming if I don’t have to pay the proposed backyears of Maintenance or the proposed Alimony rate (which simply isn’t fiscaly doable). I have had 4 major expenses since the Appeal, vehicle, my health and the home. So for now I make the best decisions I can day by day. Perform well at work to maintain employment, minimize my expenses where I can and trust in G-d for the rest. In the end it really doesn’t matter, I can’t take it anything with me, and I have faith that G-d will see to it that both I and my X are taken care of.

    I do agree with those who say “divorce is not an option”, still I would have most likely made the same decisions. She wanted a level of freedom & autonomy that for some reason she believed she didn’t have. yet she actualy had more. Am I sorry that this was the end result, sure I think the dissolution of G-d’s Covenant is never a good thing, will life go on, sure. Am I better or worse off? I would say better, the struggles I went through brought me closer to G-d and refined my decent and honorable character that people know me by, including my X. So yes I do wish her well in life, I do hope that G-d blesses her abundantly and that her life becomes all and more that she desires. And I prayer for the same.

    Thank you Utah for the encouragement of your few words. Yes it wouldn’t seem just and fair given all that I have had to endure, but that’s why G-d highly reccomends mediation before your go to court, because once in the courts, you are at their mercy. I still think Oregon and the Nation need reform in this area of our society. If we are going to treat marriage as nothing more than a civil contract, then, in my view, it should be treated no different than the dissolution of a corporate partnership. Divide the assets and that’s it, including the children – I think if you remove the power play of children then maybe that would help peole think about it more (our child was grown and married). A partner who is leaving the partnership should not expect to contnue to recieve an income from the revenues of the partnership, as it were. The breakdown in our marriage was that I was in a convenant marriage and she did not see it that way any longer. Should I be blessed with a truly loving marriage realtionship in my life – I know that it will be differnet and divorce will not even be on the table as an option.

    da/September 15, 2011 @ 9:04PM

  5. The thought of the court awarding ‘indefinite’ maintenance support is scary because that opens the door for the receiving spouse to become a dead beat on society. I agree with the court of appeals though, ‘standard of living’ must be a factor to be considered when the court is ruling on the issue of support – the question is though, how much weight should be given to that one factor???

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