Monday, October 29, 2007

New Indiana Court of Appeals decision - Spousal maintenace modified

In David J. Mitchell v. Alicia Mitchell n/k/a Alicia Zamarron (PDF format; Indiana Court of Appeals, 10/23/07) both sides appealed about how the trial court modified the husband's spousal maintenance payments.

Here are the facts on the spousal maintenance:

...The trial court ordered David to pay $400 per month in permanent spousal maintenance and pay.. approximately $315 per month to maintain insurance coverage for Alicia through the COBRA system.

Later that year David began receiving statements from his insurance company that referenced Alicia’s status as a Medicare recipient. Until that point, he was unaware that Alicia had sought out or been granted Medicare benefits. Alicia also applied for and began receiving $650 in monthly social security disability benefits without David’s knowledge. This amount eventually was increased to $703 per month. In addition to the monthly payments, the Social Security Administration issued a $21,000 lump sum award to Alicia. She also received a $55,000 settlement based on a personal injury action.
The law on the subject:
Indiana Code Section 31-15-7-2(a) controls spousal maintenance and provides: “If the court finds a spouse to be physically or mentally incapacitated to the extent that the ability of the incapacitated spouse to support himself or herself is materially affected, the court may find that maintenance for the spouse is necessary during the period of incapacity, subject to further order of the court.” A modification to the maintenance provisions may be ordered only “upon a showing of changed circumstances so substantial and continuing as to make the terms unreasonable.” Ind. Code. § 31-15-7-3.
On these facts and the law, the Court of Appeals upheld the modification (pages 4-5).

The Court of Appeals denied husband's argument that he should pay no spousal maintenance as the former wife was receiving Social Security Benefits. "Presumably, the legislature was aware that incapacitated spouses could be eligible for additional governmental aid and did not provide a statute that automatically excused or eliminated spousal maintenance in that circumstance." (page 7).

For other articles posted on this blog about maintenance, click here.

No comments: