A common misconception still exists in some people’s minds. Not everyone understands that the courts look at divorce from a gender-neutral standpoint. Men are just as entitled to spousal support as their female counterparts. Consider a recent ruling where the court ordered the wife to pay her husband four additional years of alimony.
The Court of Appeals of Tennessee at Knoxville decided Ruby Diane Barron v. Bruce Joseph Barron earlier this week. The Barrons met in July 1991 and married in December of that same year. They met in Germany and live there now.
At the time of the Appeals Court decision, Bruce is 62 and can only work a sedentary job. He had a bout with cancer and has a pleural effusion. Ruby is 67 and works as a speech therapist, earning nearly $12K monthly.
The Barrons have a biological son, born in 1993. Their second child is adopted and had developmental delays. When the couple adopted the second child, Bruce became a homemaker. He has not worked outside the home since 2005.
According to the case history, Ruby traveled quite a bit without her family. Bruce stayed home with the children when his wife was away.
Ruby filed for divorce on August 8, 2017, citing irreconcilable differences. When Bruce answered the complaint, he also filed a counterclaim. He alleged that Ruby committed adultery and other inappropriate marital conduct.
Referring to his wife by her middle name, Bruce claimed that she had extramarital relationships and was currently involved with someone else. The children advised Bruce that Ruby even brought someone to the house. They tried marriage counseling but were unsuccessful.
Wife Ordered to Pay Husband Alimony
By the time the divorce was filed, both children had reached the age of majority. Therefore, child support was not an issue. However, the couple disputed whether their home was marital or separate property.
Ruby contended that Bruce failed to contribute to the mortgage. However, Bruce’s name was on the loan, and the house was purchased during their marriage. Ultimately, the court found the home to be marital property.
As far as the divorce itself, the trial court ruled that Ruby committed adultery and also acted inappropriately. The court, therefore, granted a divorce on the grounds of adultery and inappropriate marital conduct.
The court opinion breaks down both the assets and liabilities available for equitable distribution. It pointed out that equitable does not necessarily mean equal and awarded Bruce 43% of the total assets.
In addition, the court ordered Ruby to pay Bruce $2,000 monthly in transitional alimony for one year. Ruby was further ordered to maintain Bruce’s health insurance until he reached the age of 65. According to the trial court, the alimony was intended so that Bruce could “come to America to establish and maintain a household and to adjust to the economic consequences of the divorce.”
The court based the short-term alimony award based on Ruby’s age and the fact that she’d already passed retirement age. Subsequent to the initial award, the couple went back to court on issues related to the alimony and equitable distribution.
One of the problems appeared to be that Bruce would no longer be the spouse of a government employee and would lose his residency status in Germany. He would need to return to the United States within three months following the divorce.
On appeal, the Appeals Court found that one year of transitional alimony would not be enough for Bruce to reestablish himself. The upper court found that the husband would continue to be economically disadvantaged. Instead of one year of alimony, Ruby was ordered to pay alimony for five years.