In its June 4, 2015 decision in Orioli v. Orioli, the Appellate Division, Third Department, affirmed an award of lifetime maintenance (alimony).
The parties were married in 1989 and had two children. In 2009, the wife commenced this action for divorce. Chenango County Supreme Court Justice Kevin M. Dowd awarded the wife nondurational maintenance of $78,000 per year, to be decreased to $50,000 per year once she reached the age of 62. Maintenance would only terminate upon either party’s death or the wife’s remarriage.
The Third Department affirmed, holding that Justice Dowd did not abuse his discretion in his award of maintenance to the wife.
The amount and duration of a maintenance award is left to the sound discretion of a trial court that has considered the statutory factors and the parties’ predivorce standard of living.
A spouse’s ability to become self-supporting with respect to some standard of living in no way (1) obviates the need for the court to consider the predivorce standard of living; and (2) certainly does not create a per se bar to lifetime maintenance.
Indeed, Justice Dowd had addressed the numerous statutory factors and the predivorce standard of living when making the permanent award.
Among other things, he considered the evidence that the marriage was of a long duration (20 years). Justice Dowd further considered that one of the parties’ children resided with the wife, that maintenance would be taxable for the wife and tax deductible for the husband.
It was also noted that the wife had wastefully dissipated $120,000 of marital assets, and lacked candor in her statement of net worth.
Justice Dowd also considered that as of 2009, the husband had reported income of approximately $425,000, while the wife had no income that year. On the other hand, the wife was now capable of working and earning at least $32,000 a year. She did not require additional time or training to gain such employment. Her earning capacity was not affected by her choice not to work during portions of the marriage.
Finally, Justice Dowd recognized that the wife had enjoyed a comfortable standard of living that was commensurate with the husband’s income.
Given the totality of the evidence, we agree that it is unlikely that the wife will become self-supporting so as to attain the lifestyle to which she had been accustomed to during the course of the approximately two-decade marriage.
Accordingly, the appellate court concluded that nondurational maintenance in the amount awarded, which included a reduction in that award at a set future date, was not an abuse of discretion.