Alimony Updates: Arkansas Family Law in 2017 – Modifying Alimony

Once a spouse files for divorce, in some cases, there are a lot of financial queries that must be decided in court such as child support, real property, personal property, etc. One of the biggest decisions may be regarding alimony; such as, which spouse will pay alimony, how much and for how long?

What purpose does alimony serve? It is awarded to one spouse by the other spouse, through a court order, to rectify the imbalance in the income and standard of living of the parties. Some of the factors courts may consider when deciding to award alimony may include:

  • Duration of the marriage
  • Earning ability and capacity of each party
  • Amount of income of each that is spendable
  • Health condition and medical needs of each party
  • Amount and nature of the parties’ current and anticipated incomes
  • Extent and nature of each party’s resources and assets

In 2013, Joseph and Dana Berry were divorced, and Ms. Berry was awarded alimony in the amount of $4000 per month for 15 years to be followed by $3000 per month until the event of Ms. Berry’s remarriage or by death of either party. In 2015, Mr. Berry filed a petition and asked the Court to modify the alimony as Ms. Berry received an inheritance of her mother’s assets, worth approximately $448,000. In the State of Arkansas, in order for a modification of alimony to be awarded, there must be a significant and material change in circumstances of the parties. The burden of proving this change in circumstances falls on the party seeking the modification. A.C.A. § 9-12-312(a)(7)

The trial court found that although Ms. Berry inherited assets, it was not considered an unanticipated material change that justified a termination or modification of alimony. Ms. Berry previously testified about her mother’s health in the 2013 divorce hearing, and noted that she would likely pass away in the future. The trial court found that the inheritance in fact was contemplated during the divorce hearing. Changes in circumstances can’t be considered as unanticipated if they were contemplated at the time of the original award. The Court of Appeals of Arkansas reviewed this case, and on March 8, 2017, they affirmed with lower court’s decision.

For more information and to read the entire opinion of this case, you may view Berry v. Berry

You may also view http://www.tripconylawfirm.com/faq-spousal-support/ for frequently asked questions regarding alimony/spousal support.

If you decide to petition the Court regarding a divorce, including alimony/spousal support, it will be beneficial to seek legal counsel from an experienced Arkansas family law attorney who will be able to assist you.

Tripcony, May & Associates provides services in divorce, child custody, visitation, grandparent rights, and other family law matters throughout the State of Arkansas. They currently have two locations in Little Rock and Hot Springs, Arkansas. Please contact one of their offices for a free consultation at (501) 296-9999, between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

LaTrenia A. Ceasar, MSLS, Freelance Writer, has been an employee at Tripcony, May & Associates since 2015. About the Author:
LaTrenia A. Ceasar, MSLS, Freelance Writer, has been an employee at Tripcony, May & Associates since 2015.