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Alimony: the Landscape Has Changed

Fifteen years ago, a mother of three, married to a physician for 25 years could be almost certain of receiving permanent alimony, but not anymore. Ironically, this change seems to stem from the landmark decision from 1995 which made an award of one-half of the assets to the woman a reality in most cases.

Since that decision, the Courts have stated that there is a presumption that a non-wage-earning spouse contributed equally to the accumulation of assets and is likely, therefore, to receive an equal division. After that equal division, the Court then looks to see if anything more need be done.

Practitioners don’t know what situations will merit alimony and which situations will not; we can only look at decisions and try to relate them to our specific cases. In the recent decision of Massey v. Massey, No. 2013-CA-00471–COA (09/30/14) the Court of Appeals affirmed a denial of alimony to a mother of three, married to a physician for 25 years, because the trial judge found that $760,000 plus child support of $2,717 per month was enough, even though she had no job.

Granted, a lot of people would like to have $760,000 in net assets, but Mrs. Massey felt wronged because her physician husband walked with the same amount plus his physician salary and she was left to look for a job. This decision will be sitting on trial judge’s desks as a reference in future cases.