Indefinite Alimony Based on Disability of the Dependent Spouse
This is the Hiltz vs. Hiltz case. This was decided by the Court of Special Appeals in Maryland where the lower court granted the parties a divorce. The lower court granted the Wife indefinite alimony, attorney fees, an equal interest in the Husband pensions that is marital, and a marital award.
The parties dated for 2 years and were marred in 1990. The parties lived in a modest townhouse which was bought before the marriage. The Wife had a son before a son from another person. The son was 3 year and one-half years-old when the parties were married.
At the beginning of the marriage, the Wife worked as a secretary for a medical association have a high school diploma had took a few classes at a local community college learning typing and medical terms. The parties determined the Wife quite her job and work part-time near the home, so she can be homemaker and caretaker. The Wife would care for the son and the Husband would provide for the family.
The parties satisfied their mortgage within 10 years. The parties would satisfy their debt every month. The parties had no car loans and no outstanding debt. The parties can go shopping without worrying about financial constraint and eat out at restaurants many times per week.
The parties also purchased a home for $170,000 in cash from the Husband’s parents in 2004. The parties had saved in their joint savings account about $200,000.
The parties had issues with their marriage within five years of being married. The Wife did not approve how the Husband disciplined his stepson for his wrongdoing. As a result, the Wife and her son left the marital house close to a week. The parties sought counseling from their pastor.
In 2004, the Wife suffered a serious back injury at their second residence. The Wife woke up and heard a popping sound and she had back pain. The doctor treated the Wife with fibromyalgia. The doctor ordered an MRI showing a rupture disc in her thoracic and her lumbar back. The MRI show showed arthritis in her hips and back and shoulders and some spinal stenosis.
Her fibromyalgia exacerbated her injury. She was limited when engaging with everyday physical activities. She could not play with her son. She could not care for the marital home in the same way before her injury. The Wife and her son lived at her parent’s home. She took half of the savings from the joint account where she used it to support herself and her son. However, she used to support son and grandson, to assist with her son’s legal issues, and save the family’s dog.
After learning that his Wife, Husband deposited the remainder of the movies in a separate account solely under his name. The Husband made every effort to make-up with his Wife.
However, the Wife filed for divorce along with all the issues discussed above. The Wife argued at the lower court that she has nearly irrebuttable presumption that she was disabled and is not able to work and earn an income. The court was concerned with the lack of medical evidence to support her claim. The Judge requested medical evidence or testimony whether she is disabled other than the finding from the Social Security Administration.
The Husband’s attorney contended that there is no medical evidence to say that she is disabled. She has a credit card where she shops for items all the time to show that she is not in bed all the time. She can exercise and hike. She can up a three your old child and change his diaper. She can have conversation in the court room and communicate with her counsel with no problem. She takes and receives notes. Provided with all these facts, she can work.
The court ruled that there were only three letters from the SSA showing a disability award benefits, no medical evidence, and her own testimony. The lower court erred in finding the Wife permanently and totally disabled and not able to work.