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Chekuri v. Nekkalapudi

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division I

April 17, 2019

Lakshiminarayana CHEKURI, Appellant
v.
Madhuri NEKKALAPUDI, Appellee

          Rehearing Denied May 22, 2019

Page 573

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 574

          APPEAL FROM THE PULASKI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, FIFTEENTH DIVISION [NO. 60DR-16-1602], HONORABLE RICHARD MOORE, JUDGE

         Green & Gillespie, by: Chad M. Green, Little Rock; and Brian G. Brooks, Attorney at Law, PLLC, by: Brian G. Brooks, for appellant.

         Kamps & Stotts, PLLC, by: Jocelyn A. Stotts, Bianca G. Garcia, and Victor R. Richardson, for appellee.

         OPINION

         BART F. VIRDEN, Judge

          Appellant Lakshiminarayana Chekuri appeals the divorce decree entered by the Pulaski County Circuit Court dividing property and awarding rehabilitative alimony to appellee Madhuri Nekkalapudi. On appeal, appellant argues that the trial court erred in (1) awarding appellee $ 68,415.50, which represented one-half of the amount appellant spent after the parties had separated; (2) equally dividing the funds that appellant spent after the parties had separated and the funds in appellant’s retirement account; and (3) awarding appellee rehabilitative alimony. We affirm in part and reverse in part and remand for further proceedings.

          I. Factual and Procedural Background

          The parties were married in India on February 12, 2015, as a result of an arrangement by their families. They did not live together the first month of their marriage. In March 2015, appellant moved back to Arkansas to finish his residency at UAMS and his PhD courses at the University of North Texas. Appellee stayed in India, where she finished medical school. She moved to Arkansas in May 2015. From May 2015 to December 2015, the parties lived together for approximately five and a half months. During the marriage and up to the date of the parties’ separation, appellant worked at UAMS as a resident earning $ 4,800 to $ 5,000 a month. Appellee did not work. Six months after the parties separated, appellant accepted a job at Mercy Clinic in Joplin, Missouri, earning an annual salary of $ 250,000 and receiving a $ 30,000 bonus. He was also working toward his doctoral degree at the University of North Texas.

          In December 2015, appellee moved to Virginia to attend a Kaplan course to obtain her American medical degree. She intended to return to Arkansas after she completed the course in May 2016; however, on April 21, 2016, appellant filed for divorce. On that same day, the trial court entered a restraining order enjoining the parties from selling or otherwise disposing of any property belonging to the parties.

          On October 24, 2016, the trial court held a hearing. At the hearing, appellee testified that she is a United States citizen but that appellant is not. She stated that appellant had asked her to sponsor him for a green card. Appellee further testified that appellant had verbally and physically abused her beginning in June 2015. She explained that her father currently paid for her living expenses but that he expected her to pay him back. Thereafter, the trial court entered a temporary order directing appellant to pay appellee $ 2,500 a month in alimony.

          On August 3, 2017, the trial court held a final hearing. Appellee testified that she was living with her parents and that she was working for her father while completing the Kaplan program. She stated that her monthly income was $ 540, that her monthly ...


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