Wife Obtains Permanent Spousal Support Based on Disability
A wife retained us after her husband, a professional engineer, filed for divorce. The couple had no children, although they had been married for approximately twenty-five years. The wife had initially continued her schoolteacher employment during the first part of the marriage but had suffered a degenerative neurological disease that disabled her from that employment. She had modest disability payments for her own support but depended largely on her husband's income for housing, medical insurance, transportation, and other household and life expenses. The couple owned their marital home and a second much-smaller vacation home without a mortgage. They also had no other debt. The husband maintained that the wife should provide for her own support out of her disability income and should receive the small vacation home in which to live. Our assessment was that our client needed and, under the law and equities, deserved substantial permanent spousal from her husband. Our proof showed that the husband had earned his graduate engineering degree during the marriage while our client had worked as a schoolteacher and provided their health insurance. Our proof further showed that our client's medical condition would worsen rather than improve and that her disability was permanent, making her unable to earn an income. Our proof further showed that only the marital home was appropriate for our client's disability needs. We called medical, social work, and vocational expert witnesses at the hearing to confirm this position and offered substantial corroborating exhibits. The judge agreed with our client's position, awarding her the marital home and substantial support at nearly the level our client had claimed.