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Becker v. Becker

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division III

April 17, 2019

Roger BECKER, Appellant
v.
Patricia BECKER (Now McCoy), Appellee

Page 609

          APPEAL FROM THE WASHINGTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 72DR-02-1692], HONORABLE JOANNA TAYLOR, JUDGE

         Hall, Estill, Hardwick, Gable, Golden & Nelson, P.C., Fayetteville, by: Curtis E. Hogue and M. Scott Hall, for appellant.

         Taylor Law Partners, LLP, Fayetteville, by: Scott E. Smith, for appellee.

         OPINION

         KENNETH S. HIXSON, Judge

          Appellant Roger D. Becker and appellee Patricia Becker (now McCoy)[1] were married in 1982 and divorced in 2003. There are no minor children of the marriage. The divorce decree, entered on May 20, 2003, divided the parties’ property, including Roger’s retirement accounts by means of a Qualified Domestic Relations Order. The divorce decree contained the following provisions with respect to alimony:

The Court further considered [Patricia’s] request for alimony and after considering all relevant factors, including those recited from the bench in open court, the Court finds that [Patricia] has proven by a preponderance of the evidence that she needs alimony and the evidence has further established that [Roger] is earning sufficient income to demonstrate his ability to pay alimony. The Court further considered whether rehabilitative alimony was appropriate and finds that it is not.... [Roger] should be, and hereby is, ordered and directed to pay alimony in the sum of $ 1059.00 per month beginning May 5, 2003 and continuing on the same day of each month thereafter throughout the life of [Patricia] or upon her subsequent remarriage or upon a sufficient showing of a material and substantial change in circumstances to warrant modification of this award.

          On July 6, 2017, Roger filed a petition to modify alimony. In his petition, Roger alleged that he had recently been terminated from his employment. Roger alleged that his unemployment left him without the ability to pay the court-ordered alimony and constituted a material change in circumstances that warranted a modification.

          After a hearing, the trial court entered an order on April 2, 2018, denying Roger’s

Page 610

request to modify alimony. In its order, the trial court made these pertinent findings:

4. That [Roger] has not challenged [Patricia’s] continuing need for alimony and the Court finds that [Patricia] still has an ongoing need for alimony in the sum of $ 1059.00 per month.
5. The Court finds that, while [Roger] is not presently employed, he has the financial resources to continue to pay alimony to [Patricia] as ordered. Accordingly, [Roger’s] Petition to Modify Alimony is hereby denied.

         Roger now appeals from the order denying his petition to modify alimony. Roger asserts that he no longer has a job and is living off his retirement assets, which were divided upon divorce and subsequently increased in value. Roger argues that the trial court should not have considered his retirement savings in determining his ability to pay, and he contends that by continuing to receive alimony Patricia is getting a ...


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