Morse v. Morse

Brian G. Paul recently reversed a Trial Court’s denial of a multi-millionaire Wife’s request for alimony. The parties in this case were married for nearly 26 years in which the wife served in the traditional role of homemaker and primary caretaker to the parties’ three (3) children, while Defendant concentrated his marital efforts on advancing his career and increasing his employment earnings to more than $800,000 per year. Post-separation, both of the wife’s parents died leaving her a substantial inheritance. After a trial in which our firm did not represent the Wife, the Trial Court concluded that the Wife did not have a need for alimony. The Trial Court found that she had $12,000 per month of after-tax dollars available to meet the $11,500 per month of expenses it believed she required in order to live reasonably comparable to the marital lifestyle post-divorce. When calculating the Wife’s $12,000 per month of income, however, the Trial Court imputed hypothetical investment income to the equity in the marital residence she was retaining, as well as retirement assets she had received in equitable distribution. In addition, the Court determined, on the basis of the Husband’s expert witness’ testimony, that the Wife would receive $6,000 per month of income prospectively in the form of shareholder distributions from a company in which she had an ownership interest, even though the expert had only reviewed one-half year’s worth of the company’s financial data.. The Appellate Division agreed with Brian that the Trial Court had failed to follow controlling legal principles and abused its discretion when denying the wife alimony, and remanded the matter back to the Trial Court for a proper determination. The Husband, unhappy with the Appellate Division’s decision, filed a petition seeking to have the New Jersey Supreme Court review the case, but the Supreme Court denied his application.

Click here to view the decision in Adobe Acrobat format (PDF).