My wife and I recently divorced and we listed irreconcilable differences as the grounds for our split.
The judge awarded my wife child support, alimony and $500 monthly from my retirement account. The total amount I’m paying is much more than I can afford. I was also told that alimony could not be awarded if we filed under irreconcilable differences.
Does this divorce ruling sound fair and is there any way I can fight it?
While I am not licensed to practice law in your state, I can give some general guidance on this issue.
It does sound like you were handed a very difficult ruling from the judge. Without reviewing the transcript of the hearings, it is very difficult to say if the ruling is justified per law and procedure and therefore what action should be taken.
I am happy to provide a very general overview, but please note that my response is based on the laws and procedures of Georgia, where I practice and where I am licensed.
Georgia law provides that in the event of a divorce, marital assets (including retirement accounts) are to be divided equitably, that is fairly. While most people think that the division should be 50/50, that is not always the case.
What constitutes a fair divide is entirely left to the tier of fact, be that a jury or a judge. The judge has the authority to give one party all of an retirement account or pension, none of a retirement account, and anything in-between.
The award of $500 from your retirement likely falls under the judge’s discretion so long as that retirement was actually earned during the marriage and is therefore a marital asset. If the account is a non-marital asset, the judge may have made an award contrary to law, depending on the laws of your state, and this could be an appealable issue.
A very similar analysis applies to the award of spousal support. A judge is given a lot of leeway when it comes to awarding alimony. I am not aware of the law in your state that says alimony cannot be awarded if irreconcilable differences is listed as the grounds for divorce. That is certainly not the case in Georgia.
However, if the award is contrary to law, you may be able to appeal the judge’s ruling.
The rules for filing and winning an appeal are quite strict, especially the deadlines for filing. Please check with an attorney in your state quickly to confirm whether you can appeal and when.