PATRICIA S. DUNN, Appellant,
WILLIAM J. DUNN, Appellee.
FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE MOTION FOR REHEARING AND
DISPOSITION THEREOF IF FILED
from the Circuit Court for Volusia County, Karen A. Foxman,
Michael J. Korn, of Korn & Zehmer, P.A., Jacksonville,
and Mitchell A. Gordon, of Mitchell A. Gordon, P.A., Daytona
Beach, for Appellant.
N. Bogdanoff, of The Carlyle Appellate Law Firm, Orlando, for
S. Dunn ("Former Wife") appeals the final judgment
of modification ("modification order") entered in
favor of William J. Dunn ("Former Husband"),
reducing her permanent alimony award. We reverse.
parties married in 1979. During the marriage, Former Wife was
a homemaker and the primary caregiver for the parties'
four children. Former Husband was an ophthalmologist and
established a successful practice.
1999, Former Husband filed for divorce. By that time, the
parties had accumulated over $3, 000, 000 in assets. The
court awarded Former Wife the marital home, which was
anticipated to have approximately $200, 000 in equity, but
urged her to "strongly consider selling [it] as soon as
possible." The court also awarded Former Wife $1,
013, 238 in cash, stocks, and securities, consisting of a
$538, 238 investment account and an airplane worth
approximately $475, 000, which Former Wife was to sell.
Additionally, the court awarded Former Wife an IRA valued at
$35, 124 and other personal property, for a net total of $1,
alimony, the court found that Former Wife had a need for
alimony and that Former Husband had the ability to pay.
Former Husband's financial affidavit reflected that he
earned close to $80, 000 per month and that his monthly
expenses were over $34, 000. The court determined that at a
6% rate of return on a principal investment of $950, 000,
Former Wife would yield an annual gross
income of $57, 000, amounting to approximately $4750 per
month. Former Wife's total monthly expenses were $17,
913. Accordingly, it found that Former Wife was entitled to a
permanent periodic alimony award of $12, 000 per month. The
judgment also required that Former Husband secure his alimony
(and child support) obligations with $1, 500, 000 in life
insurance policies, designating Former Wife as the
October 2014, Former Husband filed a petition to modify and
amend the final judgment of dissolution ("modification
petition"). He requested that the trial court
substantially reduce Former Wife's alimony award and
eliminate his obligation to secure the award with life
insurance. At that time, the parties' four children were
adults. Approximately three years passed between Former
Husband's filing of the modification petition and the
trial on the petition.
trial, Former Husband testified first and explained that he
earned approximately $101, 000 per month, which amounted to
$54, 000 per month after paying taxes and alimony. He
estimated that his tax rate was 39%-40%. His ability to pay
alimony was not in dispute. Former Husband also testified to
the parties' standard of living during the marriage.
Neither parents nor children wanted for anything. The parties
owned two airplanes, had two fly-in homes, and took frequent
trips to their vacation homes and to see out-of-state family,
as well as other vacations.
Wife was questioned extensively about her living arrangements
and expenses. She testified that her father had lived with
her for approximately three years prior to his death. During
that time, she cared for him, and he reimbursed her for
expenses associated with his care. Former Wife also testified
that the parties' adult son, who suffered from mental
health problems, resided with her since 2014. Former Wife
paid his expenses, which were approximately $700 per month,
from an account containing $63, 000 in VA death benefits left
to her by her father. Former Wife admitted that the account
bore her name but stated that she did not disclose it on her
financial affidavit because she "d[id] not consider it
[her] money." The trial court considered this omission
particularly egregious. Former Wife testified that her
father's estate was not yet settled but that it included
an unencumbered home, valued around $500, 000. She and her
four brothers listed the home for sale and intended to split
Wife detailed her transfers of money to the parties'
children and discussed the joint bank accounts she shared
with them. She stated that her name was no longer on the
joint accounts. She also testified that she gave the
parties' son $1250 per month while he attended college
but denied a routine practice of giving him money beyond
paying for school expenses. Implicit in the questioning was
Former Husband's apparent disapproval of her financial
assistance to the parties' children.
Husband examined Former Wife about her travel between 2015
and 2017. She testified that she visited the parties'
children and grandchildren in Los Angeles, Denver, and North
Carolina; attended her father's funeral in New Jersey;
participated in their daughter's wedding in Maine;
visited her family and her parent's home in New Jersey;
traveled for the births and birthdays of all their
grandchildren; and made a weekend road trip to North
Carolina. Former Wife paid for these trips entirely ...