Thursday, January 10, 2008

Wife's 95-percent ED award upheld

Divorce lawyers looking for a benchmark for monetary awards may want to check out a recent Court of Appeals case.

Lawyers know there is no rule requiring a 50-50 split of marital property. But arguments about who contributed what to a marriage often degenerate into “he said, she said” contests. Then something approaching an even split can seem like the most equitable outcome.

Then there are cases that skew the other way.

After Carey and Dean Roberts’ 24-year marriage ended, Accomack County Circuit Judge Glen Tyler awarded the wife 95 percent of the marital property. The Court of Appeals upheld that equitable distribution in an unpublished opinion released Dec. 27.

Tyler found the husband made only negative contributions to the marriage, especially during the last 10 years the parties lived together. The husband didn’t hold a job and didn’t help around the house. In fact, at times he endangered the financial stability of the family either by creating debt, depleting family resources or by creating situations that could have cost wife her job, according to the appellate panel opinion.

It was the wife who held things together.

Tyler said the case, Roberts v. Roberts, was “the most remarkable case” presented to him in “many, many years.”

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