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Trucks v. Trucks

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division IV

March 18, 2015

MICHAEL TRUCKS, APPELLANT
v.
LAUREEN G. TRUCKS, APPELLEE

Page 313

APPEAL FROM THE WHITE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. NO. DR-2013-272. HONORABLE CRAIG HANNAH, JUDGE.

Simpson, Simpson & Mercer, by: Justin G. Mercer, for appellant.

McKinney & McKinney, PLLC, by: Quincy W. McKinney, for appellee.

ROBERT J. GLADWIN, Chief Judge. GLOVER and HOOFMAN, JJ., agree.

OPINION

Page 314

ROBERT J. GLADWIN, Chief Judge

Appellant Michael Trucks appeals the June 10, 2014 decree of divorce entered by the White County Circuit Court in this divorce action, specifically the award of alimony in the amount of $600 per month for a period of thirty years. He argues that the circuit court abused its discretion in awarding alimony to appellee Laureen G. Trucks. We affirm.

Appellant and appellee were married for nearly sixteen years, although appellant admittedly spent significant periods of time away from the marital home due to his battle with drug and/or alcohol addiction. At some point, after several years of marriage, appellant moved to Arkansas and eventually filed for divorce. Appellee filed an answer and counterclaim for divorce against appellant, seeking alimony because of the marital debt she was currently paying, namely, an alleged promissory note (" note" ) the parties executed to appellee's mother in the amount of $100,000. The note was the only evidence of this alleged debt, as appellee neither had her mother present to testify as to the alleged mortgage statement accompanying the note nor entered any bank statements into evidence showing the payments on the alleged note. Further, the note omitted the amount to be repaid and a maturity date, and appellant testified that he had neither seen the note nor the alleged mortgage statement and found that his signature was not the signature affixed to the note.

At the conclusion of the brief trial, the circuit court granted appellee a divorce based on the fault grounds of habitual drunkenness, drug abuse, and adultery. Despite the conflicting evidence regarding the parties' financial circumstances, the circuit court awarded appellee alimony in the amount of $600 per month for a period of thirty years, citing a financial need, and noting that appellant, despite his income level, had the ability to pay such award. The decree was filed on June 10, 2014, and appellant filed a timely notice of appeal on June 17, 2014.

Appellate courts in Arkansas review divorce cases de novo on the record. Taylor v. Taylor, 369 Ark. 31, 250 S.W.3d 232 (2007). The decision to grant alimony lies within the sound discretion of the circuit court and will not be reversed on appeal absent an abuse of discretion. Stuart v. Stuart, 2012 Ark.App. 458, 422 S.W.3d 147; Ark. Code Ann. § 9-12-312(a)(1) (Supp. 2013).

The circuit court is vested with great discretion regarding alimony; it is not set upon a mathematical formula because the need for flexibility outweighs the need for relative certainty. Wadley v. Wadley, 2012 Ark.App. 208, 395 S.W.3d 411. Appellate courts will defer to the superior position of the circuit court to judge the credibility of witnesses. Taylor, supra.

Division of marital property and the award of alimony are complementary devices that the trial court may employ to make the dissolution of a marriage financially equitable. Yancy v. Yancy, 2014 Ark.App. 256. Generally, the primary consideration in a decision to award alimony is the relationship between the needs of the payee spouse and the payor spouse's ability to pay. Id. An award of alimony lies within the discretion of the trial court and will not be reversed absent an abuse of discretion. Id.

There are secondary factors that may also be considered. Id. In Jones v. Jones, 2014 Ark.App. 614, 447 S.W.3d 599, this court reiterated the factors set out in Boyles v. Boyles, 268 Ark. 120, 594 ...


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