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Beggs v. Beggs

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division IV

February 11, 2015

RONALD BEGGS, APPELLANT
v.
ELIZABETH M. BEGGS, APPELLEE

APPEAL FROM THE PULASKI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, FIFTEENTH DIVISION [NO. 60DR-06-39] HONORABLE RICHARD MOORE, JUDGE

Holleman & Associates, P.A., by: Maryna O. Jackson; and Dodds, Kidd & Ryan, by: David W. Kamps, for appellant.

Dover Dixon Horne PLLC, by: Gary B. Rogers, for appellee.

KENNETH S. HIXSON, Judge

Appellant Ronald Beggs appeals from the trial court's denial of his motion to modify alimony.[1] On appeal, Mr. Beggs asserts that there was a reduction in his income and that the trial court erred in refusing to reduce his alimony obligation to his ex-wife, Elizabeth Beggs. We affirm.

The purpose of alimony is to rectify economic imbalance in the earning power and the standard of living of the parties to a divorce in light of the particular facts of each case. Bettis v. Bettis, 100 Ark.App. 295, 267 S.W.3d 646 (2007). Modification of an award of alimony must be based on a change of circumstances of the parties. Id. The burden of showing a change in circumstances is always upon the party seeking the change in the amount of alimony. Hass v. Hass, 80 Ark.App. 408, 97 S.W.3d 424 (2003). The primary factors to be considered in changing the award of alimony are the needs of one party and the ability of the other to pay. Parker v. Parker, 97 Ark.App. 298, 248 S.W.3d 523 (2007). Each case is to be judged on its own facts, and we will not reverse absent an abuse of discretion by the trial court. Id.

Mr. Beggs and Ms. Beggs were divorced by a decree entered on December 29, 2006. The divorce decree awarded Ms. Beggs custody of the parties' two minor children and ordered Mr. Beggs to pay child support. At the time of the divorce, the trial court found that Mr. Beggs's net monthly income was $23, 318, and that other than some brief sporadic work Ms. Beggs had not worked outside of the home for more than seventeen years. The trial court ordered Mr. Beggs to pay Ms. Beggs $4500 in monthly alimony, which would increase to $5500 monthly upon the parties' oldest child graduating from high school. The alimony was to continue until Ms. Beggs reached the age of sixty-two. Since entry of the divorce decree, both of the parties' children have graduated from high school and Mr. Beggs's child-support obligation has expired. The current alimony obligation is $5500 monthly.

On March 24, 2013, Mr. Beggs filed a motion to modify alimony. In his motion, Mr. Beggs alleged that his income has substantially decreased through no fault of his own, and that Ms. Beggs had gained full-time employment.

At the hearing on his motion, Mr. Beggs testified that at the time of the parties' divorce he worked as a project estimator for a construction company called Flynco. Mr. Beggs owned one-third of Flynco's stock, and his brother David Beggs (hereinafter referred to as "David") was the president and majority stockholder of the company. Mr. Beggs's salary as project estimator was approximately $80, 000 to $100, 000 per year. However, the bulk of his income arose from annual bonuses based on his contributory stock ownership, which was dependent on his continued employment at Flynco. Mr. Beggs testified that his total annual income from Flynco was between $500, 000 and $600, 000 at the time of the divorce, and that it subsequently increased to about $864, 000 per year.

Mr. Beggs's employment with Flynco terminated in June of 2011. This resulted from a personality conflict between Mr. Beggs and his brother David, and their disagreement on how to run the business. Mr. Beggs was unhappy about David using company funds to make personal purchases, and David testified that Mr. Beggs had a temper problem and was emailing and Facebooking more than he was working. As a result of the brothers' irreconcilable differences, David terminated Mr. Beggs's employment with Flynco and agreed to purchase his stock. According to David, Mr. Beggs asked to be bought out and David purchased Mr. Beggs's stock for $1, 184, 700.

Mr. Beggs testified that, after his termination from Flynco, he had planned to start another construction company but changed his mind due to the poor economy. Mr. Beggs stated that he lacked any formal education in construction management and was not qualified to work as a project manager for another construction company. In December 2012, Mr. Beggs bought some farmland and planned on operating a farm to provide a living.

Mr. Beggs testified that he currently earned approximately $60, 000 in annual investment income. Mr. Beggs stated that he had about $1, 000, 000 in assets at the time of the divorce, and that he now has $3, 300, 000 in assets. Mr. Beggs also testified that he has zero debt.

Ms. Beggs testified that since the divorce she has obtained employment as a data specialist at a hospital earning $754 biweekly. Ms. Beggs stated that she has IRA accounts valued at about $201, 000 and about $31, 000 in stocks and bonds, but that she owes $109, 000 on her house.

On January 22, 2014, the trial court entered an order denying Mr. Beggs's motion to modify alimony. In its order, the trial court found that Mr. Beggs did not prove a material change in circumstances through no fault of his own, citing the fact that Mr. Beggs asked to be bought out of his interest in Flynco. The trial court also found that Mr. Beggs's assets had significantly increased in value since the parties' divorce, and that he failed to pursue any income-producing ...


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