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Domestic Relations — Alimony – Imputed Income – Duration – Delayed Order

Juhnn v. Juhnn (Lawyers Weekly No. 15-07-0662, 14 pp.) (Wanda Bryant, J.) Appealed from Mecklenburg County District Court (Donnie Hoover, J.) N.C. App.

Holding: Even if the defendant-husband had adequately challenged the findings of fact he notes in his appeal, the trial court’s ruling that the husband acted in bad faith regarding his income is supported by numerous unchallenged findings: he committed marital misconduct by abandoning the plaintiff-wife and their three children; plaintiff was a homemaker during the entire course of her marriage to defendant; defendant “has an earning capacity far greater than that of [plaintiff] and has demonstrated that capacity”; defendant “intentionally shut down his brokerage business” and “intentionally understated [his brokerage business’s] corporate income by at least $44,684.00”; defendant’s tax returns for 2007 and 2008 were “spurious” and contained falsified and inaccurate information, including defendant forging his wife’s signature on the tax returns; defendant has provided for his paramour and her children while refusing to provide support to plaintiff and his children; and that since plaintiff filed her claim for divorce, defendant has “engaged in voluntary unemployment or underemployment,” or “is simply hiding income.”

We affirm the trial court’s award of alimony and child support.

In support of an 18-year alimony term, the trial court made 76 findings of fact, including plaintiff’s lack of “English language skills which make[s] her functionally unemployable” and her lack of education or training to permit her to find employment to meet her reasonable economic needs in the United States. The trial court’s numerous and thorough findings of fact and conclusions of law more than sufficiently support its decision to award plaintiff alimony for a term of 18 years.

Although the trial court did not issue its order until 20 months after the last hearing, defendant was not prejudiced thereby. Defendant argues that the “extreme delay was prejudicial” because, “[s]ince [defendant] had made no payments in twenty months, he is [now] lumped with an extreme arrears amount.” However, defendant had been ordered to pay post-separation support and child support prior to the trial court’s entry of an order for permanent alimony, and defendant has presented no evidence as to why he did not make the required post-separation support and child support payments during this time period (almost four years), nor has defendant shown how the trial court’s delayed entry of the alimony and child support order has prejudiced him. In fact, it appears only plaintiff has suffered substantial prejudice, not defendant.


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