Officially released February 25, 2020.
In Short: the trial court has broad discretion. Not a lot of in-depth analysis to review.
The parties were married in 1997 and divorced in 2017. During the marriage, Husband engaged in some complicated contracts and relationships regarding real property, including acquiring numerous properties, some with money from his mother, some in his own name, some in his mother’s name or on her behalf. Husband argued and presented evidence that a third-party had a contractual claim to one such property.
In 2009, Husband informed Wife he was leaving the marital home, moved to Canada to live with his mother, and the parties remained separated from that time forward despite Wife’s attempts to repair the relationship.
In 2012 Husband was laid off from his job as an IT consultant. In 2013 he was temporarily employed with another company. Thereafter, he was employed in customer service making substantially less money.
In 2017, following a 26-day trial, the trial court found Husband at fault for the breakdown of the marriage, found he was intentionally underemployed and awarded alimony based on an earning capacity, and found that certain properties were part of the marital estate.
Husband appealed, claiming that the trial court improperly (1) found him at fault for the breakdown of the marriage, (2) found that he was intentionally underemployed when calculating his earning capacity, and (3) determined which properties were part of the marital estate and awarded one of them to Wife.
The Appellate Court found no abuse of discretion as to the cause of the breakdown of the marriage.
The Appellate Court found no abuse of discretion as to the trial court’s findings on intentional unemployment and earning capacity. The trial court had deemed Husband’s testimony as not credible. There was evidence that, as recently as 2013, Husband had been employed in the IT field but had done little since then to improve his qualifications or pursue employment in the field. Those findings were not clearly erroneous.
The Appellate Court found the trial court’s assessment and award of real properties under the circumstances of the case to be within the trial court’s broad discretion. There was no in-depth analysis to be found here.