Can you be too rich to get alimony in a divorce? This is a great problem to have.
Alimony in Divorce – A South Carolina Case
In a 2017 case out of South Carolina, the court awarded $5,000 a month in permanent alimony to the wife in a 28-year marriage. The husband made over $400,000 a year and she made far less.
On appeal, the husband pointed out that the wife received $1.28 million in the divorce and could support herself without alimony.
The appeals court found “It would be inequitable to require the Wife to invade her only assets to support herself while Husband may save and continue to draw a substantial salary and dividends from his company.” The case is now on appeal to the South Carolina Supreme Court.
— Sweeney v. Sweeney, 420 S.C. 69, 75, 800 S.E.2d 148, 151 (Ct. App. 2017)
Alimony in Divorce – A Maryland Case
Divorce law is different in each state. The outcome might not have been the same in Maryland. In 1990, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals reviewed a case where the parties each had over $1 million in assets.
The trial judge denied alimony in the divorce. The judge found the parties to be self-supporting and therefore not entitled to alimony.
The appeals court affirmed, noting that alimony is not intended to be a pension for life. The court stated the objective of alimony is to help a dependent spouse time to become self-supporting.
— Hull v. Hull, 83 Md. App. 218, 574 A.2d 20 (1990)
Temporary Alimony in a Divorce
In a 1994 case in Maryland, the Court of Special Appeals reviewed a case involving temporary alimony in a divorce. The test for temporary alimony is need and ability to pay. The husband appealed the trial court’s award of temporary alimony to his wife arguing that she didn’t need alimony because she had $160,000 in assets she could use.
The appeals court noted that the Hull case required an award of alimony to be based on a conclusion that a recipient spouse is not self-sufficient. However, the trial judge had considerable equitable discretion in reaching that conclusion.
The law does not require a spouse to liquidate assets in order to receive alimony. The trial court did not err in finding the wife was not self-sufficient despite her investment assets.
— Reuter v. Reuter, 102 Md.App. 2112 (1994)