Plaintiff Jolin Brady (“Mother”) and Defendant Erron Brady (“Father”) were married on April 26, 1997. Father and Mother had four children. Father was in undergraduate school at Brigham Young University when the parties married. While Father was in dental school, Mother worked as a paralegal and then stopped working when the parties’ eldest son was born. In 2002, Father and Mother moved to Charlotte, North Carolina once Father finished dental school. Father owns his own dental practice. In 2014, Mother began working as a part-time yoga instructor.
Did Trial Court Err in Setting the Amount and Duration of Alimony?
On May 20, 2020, the trial court entered an Order wherein Father was ordered to pay alimony of $5,250.00 per month for ten (10) years from October 2019. Father’s contention was that the trial court erred in setting the amount and duration of alimony. “The amount of alimony is determined by the trial judge in the exercise of his sound discretion and is reviewed on appeal only for an abuse of discretion.” Quick v. Quick, 305 N.C. 446, 453, 290 S.E.2d 653, 658 (1982).
The trial court made numerous findings including length of marriage, gross income and net income of the parties, occupation of Father and Mother, each party’s ability to access funds, Mother’s monthly reasonable needs and expenses, Father’s monthly reasonable needs and expenses, earning capacity of the parties, etc. Father challenges some of the trial court’s findings regarding amount and duration of alimony.
Based on the trial court’s unchallenged findings, Father’s gross monthly salary was approximately $18,364.42 with Mother’s reasonable monthly needs and expenses to be $5,400.00. Father’s Affidavit of Financial Standing indicated that he had monthly needs and expenses in excess of $11,000.00. The trial court ruled this amount to be unreasonable but did not make a finding as to what would be a reasonable amount for Father’s monthly needs and expenses.
Father’s net monthly income is approximately $10,922.01. Although no such finding was made by the trial court, the court determined that Father’s monthly reasonable needs and expenses to be $5,672.01. Also, it does not appear that the trial court considered Father’s monthly child support obligation of $3,483.83 when determining amount of alimony awarded to Mother.
Based on Father’s monthly reasonable needs and expenses and his monthly child support obligation, Father has a monthly surplus of $1,766.17, which falls short of the $5,250.00 per month in spousal support. The trial court found that Father was able to access funds from his dental practice, but it is unclear to what extent this was feasible.
The trial court’s conclusion that Mother is entitled to alimony for a period of ten years is supported by the trial court’s findings—both challenged and unchallenged. However, the trial court’s findings do not support a conclusion that Father is able to pay alimony to Mother in an amount of $5,250.00 per month. Therefore, the trial court’s order as to alimony was remanded for further findings of fact and conclusions of law.