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Lisa R. Warner v. Charles D. Warner

February 8, 2013

LISA R. WARNER, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
CHARLES D. WARNER, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



CIVIL CASE FROM COMMON PLEAS COURT, DOMESTIC RELATIONS

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Abele, J.

Cite as

Warner v. Warner,

DECISION AND JUDGMENT ENTRY

{¶1} This is an appeal from a Scioto County Common Pleas Court, Domestic Relations Division, judgment that granted a divorce to Lisa R. Warner, plaintiff below and appellee herein, and Charles D. Warner, defendant below and appellant herein, and ordered appellant to pay appellee $2,400 in monthly spousal support for twelve years.

{¶2} Appellant assigns the following error for review:

"THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN AWARDING SUSTENANCE SPOUSAL SUPPORT."

{¶3} On May 18, 2011, appellee filed a divorce complaint against appellant. Appellant subsequently counterclaimed for divorce. The parties eventually agreed upon the property division, but did not agree whether appellee should receive spousal support.

{¶4} On June 26, 2012, the trial court held a final hearing regarding the parties' agreed property division and the spousal support issue. At the hearing, appellant testified that his annual gross income is $107,000 and that his net monthly pay is $5,557.31. He explained that his net pay reflects deductions for taxes, health insurance, long-term disability insurance, a flexible spending account ($180 per month), and retirement (approximately $800 per month). Appellant testified that he has received pay raises from time-to-time. He further stated that his starting salary twelve years ago was $76,000, and he currently earns $107,000.

{¶5} Appellee testified that she worked off-and-on throughout the parties' marriage, but that she primarily raised the children. Approximately six years ago, she obtained a teaching position and currently grosses approximately $44,600 annually. Appellee stated that her net monthly pay is $2,400, and that her monthly expenses total close to $4,000.

{¶6} On July 23, 2012, the trial court entered a judgment that divided the property pursuant to the parties' agreement, with a nearly equal distribution of property.

{¶7} On July 25, 2012, the court entered a decision that awarded appellee $2,400 in monthly spousal support for twelve years. The court found that appellant's reasonable monthly expenses total approximately $4,063 and that appellee's reasonable monthly expenses total approximately $3,576. The court determined "that based upon the current income and resources of the parties and taking into account their respective current reasonable monthly expenses that both parties would be able to maintain a standard of living substantially equivalent to that maintained during the marriage and still be able to maintain their respective retirement options and benefits based upon [appellant] paying $2,400.00 per month spousal support to [appellee]" for twelve years. This appeal followed.

{¶8} In his sole assignment of error, appellant asserts that the trial court erred by awarding appellee $2,400 in monthly spousal support for twelve years. He asserts that the trial court improperly fashioned its spousal support award so as "to maintain a standard of living for [appellee] that is much higher than the standard allowed to [appellant]." Appellant further contends that the award's duration is "essentially permanent" because it does not terminate until he reaches retirement age.

{ΒΆ9} Trial courts generally enjoy broad discretion to determine spousal support issues. Kunkle v. Kunkle, 51 Ohio St.3d 64, 67, 554 N.E.2d 83 (1990); Cherry v. Cherry, 66 Ohio St.2d 348, 421 N.E.2d 1293 (1981). Consequently, an appellate court will not reverse a trial court's spousal support decision absent an abuse of discretion. Bechtol v. Bechtol, (1990), 49 Ohio St.3d 21, 24, 550 N.E.2d 178; Holcomb v. Holcomb, (1989), 44 Ohio St.3d 128, 131, 541 N.E.2d 597. "Abuse of discretion" has been defined as an attitude ...


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