HAROLD R. DACE APPELLANT
DEBRA (DACE) DOSS APPELLEE
FROM THE WHITE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 73DR-11-564]
HONORABLE CRAIG HANNAH, JUDGE
Harrelson Law Firm, P.A., by: Steve Harrelson, for appellant.
Simpson & Simpson, by: James A. Simpson, Jr., and Haley
Smith, for appellee.
M. GLOVER, JUDGE.
R. Dace appeals the White County Circuit Court's denial
of his request to terminate his alimony obligation to
appellee Debra (Dace) Doss. Specifically, he contends (1) the
circuit court erred in not terminating Doss's alimony
upon her remarriage; (2) it also erred in requesting and
considering evidence outside the record to determine
Doss's monthly expenses; and (3) Act 1487 of 2013 calls
into question the validity of permanent alimony awards. We
and Doss divorced in 2012 after a seventeen-year marriage.
The circuit court awarded Doss alimony, with the divorce
decree stating, "Based on [Dace's] income of $4,
000.00 per month and [Doss's] income of $800.00 per
month, [Dace] shall pay [Doss] alimony in the amount of
$619.00 per month for the remainder of [Doss's]
life." Doss remarried on November 7, 2015; after her
remarriage, Dace unilaterally terminated his alimony payments
April 2016, Doss filed a motion for contempt against Dace,
asking the circuit court to hold him in contempt for
terminating her alimony payments in violation of the terms of
the divorce decree. In response, Dace filed a motion to
terminate his alimony obligation due to Doss's remarriage
and because she no longer had a need for alimony. After a
hearing on the matter, the circuit court found (1) Doss had
the ability to earn at least minimum wage and imputed a
monthly income of $1, 075 to her; (2) Doss had reasonable
monthly expenses of $1, 309; (3) Doss had remarried and her
current husband now provided housing and paid some of her
other monthly expenses; and (4) Doss had a current need of
$234. The circuit court reduced Doss's alimony from $619
per month to $234 per month as of May 31, 2016 (the date Dace
filed his motion to terminate alimony); ordered Dace to pay
Doss a total of $5, 269 in back alimony; and found Dace had
an ongoing duty to pay alimony in the amount of $234 per
month. Dace timely appealed the circuit court's
of domestic-relations proceedings are reviewed de novo.
Nelson v. Nelson, 2016 Ark.App. 416, 501 S.W.3d 875.
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. Beck v. Beck,
2017 Ark.App. 311, 521 S.W.3d 543. An abuse of discretion
means discretion improvidently exercised, i.e., exercised
thoughtlessly and without due consideration. Bennett v.
Bennett, 2016 Ark.App. 308, 496 S.W.3d 409. This court
has recognized that a circuit court is in the best position
to view the needs of the parties in connection with an
alimony award. Beck, supra. It is not our duty under
our standard of review to simply substitute our judgment for
that of the circuit court, which was in a far better position
to judge the credibility of the witnesses. Berry v.
Berry, 2017 Ark.App. 145, 515 S.W.3d 164.
purpose of alimony is to rectify economic imbalances in
earning power and standard of living in light of the
particular facts of each case; the circuit court may make an
award of alimony that is reasonable under the circumstances.
Brave v. Brave, 2014 Ark. 175, 433 S.W.3d 227. The
primary factors to be considered in determining whether to
award alimony are the financial need of one spouse and the
other spouse's ability to pay; secondary factors are the
financial circumstances of both parties, the amount and
nature of both current and anticipated income of both
parties, the extent and nature of the resources and assets of
each party, and the earning ability and capacity of both
parties. Id. The amount of alimony should not be
reduced to a mathematical formula, as the need for
flexibility outweighs the need for relative certainty.
alimony is always subject to modification. Nelson,
supra. Modification of an alimony award must be based on
a significant and material change in the circumstances of the
parties, and the burden of showing such a change in
circumstances is on the party seeking the modification.
Continuation of Alimony
first argues the circuit court erred in not terminating his
alimony obligation to Doss. Specifically, he argues Doss no
longer has a need for alimony after her remarriage in
November 2015; the alimony award should have automatically
terminated on her remarriage pursuant to Arkansas Code
Annotated section 9-12-312(a)(2)(A); and the circuit
court's use of a mathematical formula in determining a
modified amount of alimony was contrary to our supreme
court's holding in Brave, supra, that an alimony
award should not be reduced to a mathematical formula because
the need for flexibility outweighs the need for relative
certainty. We cannot agree with Dace's contentions.
Code Annotated section 9-12-312(a)(2)(A) (Repl. 2015)
provides, "Unless otherwise ordered by the court or
agreed to by the parties, the liability for alimony shall
automatically cease upon . . . the date of the remarriage of
the person who was awarded the alimony." Dace
acknowledges in his brief that the statutory provision states
that alimony automatically terminates when certain events
occur "unless otherwise ordered by the court, " but
he contends that while the circuit court originally ordered
alimony to be paid for the remainder of Doss's life, the
new order, entered in October 2016, does not ...