Thursday, January 4, 2007

Whittington v. Whittington (Ct. of Special Appeals)

Decided January 4, 2007—Opinion by Judge Deborah Eyler.

In a divorce action, the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County granted a divorce and awarded the wife indefinite alimony, counsel fees, a monetary award, and an interest in the marital portion of her husband's two pensions. The court also ordered the husband to maintain a survivor benefit for the wife on one of his pensions, granted the wife an interest in the survivor benefit, and ordered the division of certain jointly held marital property.

The Court considered six questions on appeal:

I. Did the trial court err or abuse its discretion in granting the wife indefinite alimony of $1,500 a month?

II. Did the trial court err or abuse its discretion in valuing certain marital property and in equitably distributing the marital property?

III. Did the trial court err in awarding the wife a portion of the survivor benefit of one of the husband's pensions?

IV. Did the circuit court make inconsistent findings of material fact warranting a reversal?

V. Did the circuit court err by failing to reconsider the alimony and counsel fee awards after amending the judgment to grant the wife an award of a portion of the one of the pension survivor benefits?

VI. Did the circuit court err in awarding counsel fees without making any factual findings as to the reasonableness of the fees?

Affirming the circuit court's judgment of divorce, the Court otherwise vacated the judgment and remanded because it appeared the trial judge had not exercised discretion in determining whether indefinite alimony was "required" rather than appropriate; and commented for further guidance on other of the issues presented.

The full opinion is available in WordPerfect and PDF.

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