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Bridges v. McCracken

December 18, 1998

JANICE BRIDGES APPELLANT
v.
WALTER KENNETH MCCRACKEN, SR. APPELLEE



Before Thomas, P.j., Diaz, And Southwick, JJ.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Southwick, J.

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 07/22/97

TRIAL JUDGE: HON. JERRY G. MASON

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: LAUDERDALE COUNTY CHANCERY COURT

NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - DOMESTIC RELATIONS

TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: APPELLANT AWARDED PERIODIC ALIMONY OF $750/MO. (BUT FOUND IN ARREARS ON SUPPORT OBLIGATIONS FOR $6400). MOTION TO REDUCE SUPPORT DENIED.

DISPOSITION: AFFIRMED - 12/18/98

¶1. Janice Bridges appeals from a judgment modifying her ex-husband's alimony and child support obligations. She argues that the court erred both in the amount of rehabilitative periodic alimony granted and the court's refusal to reduce her obligations for child support. We disagree and affirm.

FACTS

¶2. Janice Bridges and Kenneth McCracken were divorced on June 30, 1995. The parties entered a property settlement agreement that required Mr. McCracken to pay $375 in support for each of their two children. For the period that Ms. Bridges continued to be employed in the company that they owned, Meridian Data Services, Inc., Mr. McCracken was to pay one dollar per year in rehabilitative periodic alimony. Those payments would end December 31, 2001. This implied the parties recognition that if Ms. Bridges stopped working at the company before that date, the nominal alimony would no longer be adequate. In 1997, Mr. McCracken bought out Ms. Bridges' half-interest in the company and her employment was terminated soon thereafter. The chancellor entered an order at that time modifying the prior judgment, and acknowledging that Ms. Bridges could petition for modification to the alimony. This appeal involves no issues regarding the fairness or validity of the buy-out.

¶3. Ms. Bridges received an initial lump sum payment and then monthly amounts as part of the sale of her stock. Though this money was substantial, she argues that she suffered a marked drop in income after selling her stock. She maintains that the money from the sale of her interest should not be used for expenses and had been earmarked for her retirement. The chancellor agreed that the money that she received for her interest in the company should not be depleted on current expenses. Considerable testimony was given as to the income, assets, and obligations of both parties. Ms. Bridges demands the equivalent in alimony that she was making as an employee of the formerly family-based business, which was $37,500 per year in salary and $29,000 in expenses.

¶4. Importantly, the financial information from each party indicated that their divorce had contributed to each having more expenses than income, though Mr. McCracken's income has continued to be substantial, and Ms. Bridges is presently unemployed.

¶5. The chancellor concluded that Mr. McCracken should pay Ms. Bridges $750 per month in rehabilitative periodic alimony until the end of 2001. Ms. Bridges argues that is well below the amount warranted. Her request that Mr. McCracken assume complete responsibility for the two children's education and automobile expenses was rejected. The court further awarded a judgment against Ms. Bridges in the amount of $6,329.67 plus 8% interest for such expenses as premiums on a life insurance policy, car insurance, a car note, and other obligations. Mr. McCracken's request that his child support be paid directly to the children was granted in regards to his daughter Lisa but not as to Kenneth, Jr.

ΒΆ6. Mr. McCracken's motion to have Ms. Bridges held in contempt of court for not paying her portion of ...


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