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McDaniel v. McDaniel

Alabama Court of Civil Appeals

January 9, 2015

Saleta Gay McDaniel
v.
Steven Ray McDaniel

Released for Publication August 5, 2015.

Appeal from Cherokee Circuit Court. (DR-13-900031). Jeremy S Taylor, TRIAL JUDGE.

For Appellant: Jeffrey Montgomery, Montgomery Law Group, P.C., Gadsden.

For Appellee: Summer L. McWhorter, Centre.

THOMPSON, Presiding Judge. Pittman, Thomas, Moore, and Donaldson, JJ., concur.

OPINION

Page 39

THOMPSON, Presiding Judge.

Saleta Gay McDaniel (" the wife" ) and Steven Ray McDaniel were married in 1998; no children were born of the parties' marriage. On March 11, 2013, the wife filed a complaint in the Cherokee Circuit Court (" the trial court" ) seeking a divorce; in her complaint, the wife alleged, among other things, that the husband had committed adultery. The wife sought an equitable division of the parties' marital property and an award of periodic alimony.

On March 12, 2013, the trial court entered an order restraining the parties from harassing each other and enjoining them from disposing of marital property. On April 5, 2013, after receiving ore tenus evidence, the trial court entered an order setting forth the manner in which the parties were to divide expenses pertaining to the marital home during the pendency of the action and to divide the payment toward the indebtedness incurred during the marriage. Each party later filed motions seeking to have the other held in contempt.

The trial court conducted an ore tenus hearing. On December 27, 2013, the trial court entered a judgment divorcing the parties. In its divorce judgment, the trial court fashioned a property division, denied the wife's request for an award of periodic alimony, and denied all other requested relief. It its judgment, the trial court found, among other things, that the wife's testimony had not been credible and that her actions during the pendency of the divorce action had " constitute[d] a significant fraud." The wife filed a postjudgment motion, and the trial court denied that motion. The wife timely appealed.

The wife argues that the trial court erred in its division of the marital property and by failing to award, or to reserve ruling on the issue of, alimony. With regard to reviewing a trial court's determinations as to property division and alimony, this court has stated:

" 'When the trial court fashions a property division following the presentation of ore tenus evidence, its judgment as to that evidence is presumed correct on appeal and will not be reversed absent a showing that the trial court exceeded its discretion or that its decision is plainly and palpably wrong. Roberts v. Roberts, 802 So.2d 230, 235 (Ala.Civ.App. 2001); Parrish v. Parrish, 617 So.2d 1036, 1038 (Ala.Civ.App. 1993); and Hall v. Mazzone, 486 So.2d 408, 410 (Ala. 1986). A property division is required to be equitable, not equal, and a determination of what is equitable rests within the broad discretion of the trial court. Parrish, 617 So.2d at 1038.'
" Stone v. Stone, 26 So.3d 1232, 1236 (Ala.Civ.App. 2009).
" 'The issues of property division and alimony are interrelated, and they must be considered together. Albertson v. Albertson,678 So.2d 118 (Ala.Civ.App. 199[5]). A property division is not required to be equal, but it must be equitable. Golden v. Golden,681 So.2d 605 (Ala.Civ.App. 1996). In fashioning a property division and an award of alimony, the trial court must consider factors such as the earning capacities of the parties; their future prospects; their ages and health; the length of the parties' ...

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