from Baldwin Circuit Court (DR-15-900131)
Application for Rehearing
court's no-opinion order of affirmance issued on March
17, 2017, is withdrawn, and the following is substituted
therefor. Ronald Meehan ("the husband") appeals
from a judgment of the Baldwin Circuit Court ("the trial
court") divorcing him from Felicia Meehan ("the
wife"), awarding alimony, and dividing the parties'
property. The wife cross-appeals, challenging the amount of
the child-support award and the division of property. We
affirm the judgment.
and Procedural History
husband and the wife met in Georgia in 1994 through their
employment with a home-building company. In 1997, they became
involved in a romantic relationship while the husband was
still married to his second wife. On February 1, 2000, the
parties' child, S.L.M. ("the child"), was born.
In 2002, the husband divorced his second wife, and, in 2004,
the parties began living together.
2006, the wife and the child moved from Georgia to Baldwin
County in anticipation of the child's starting school.
The husband remained in Georgia with the intent to relocate
to Baldwin County within the next year. The wife and the
child lived in a house on lot 7, one of two lots ("lot 7
and lot 8") that the husband owned on Fort Morgan Road.
On August 5, 2006, the parties were ceremonially married.
According to the husband's testimony, he was forced to
continue his employment in Georgia because of the recent
economic crisis, and the husband believed that he would be
unable to find new employment at 60 years old in the
home-building industry. As a result, the husband continued to
live in Georgia and traveled to Baldwin County to visit the
wife and the child on the weekends.
child did not attend public school in Baldwin County, as the
parties had planned, but attended different private schools
in the area. From 2006 to 2011, the wife drove over 200 miles
each day transporting the child from Fort Morgan to the
child's school in Mobile. In 2011, the wife and the child
moved to a house that the parties purchased in Daphne that
was located closer to the child's school. The husband
retired in May 2014 and began living full-time with the wife
and the child in the house in Daphne.
February 3, 2015, the husband filed a complaint for a divorce
in the trial court. The wife filed an answer and a
counterclaim for a divorce in which she asserted, among other
things, that the parties had been common-law married since
2004. Throughout the course of the proceedings, each party
filed numerous motions that were addressed by the trial court
before the trial.
March 17 and 18, 2016, the trial court held a trial. The
husband was 67 years old and the wife was 50 years old at the
time of the trial. At the beginning of the trial, the husband
and the wife stipulated to a custodial and visitation
arrangement wherein the wife would have sole physical custody
of the child. The parties also agreed that two specified
financial accounts would be used for the purpose of funding
the child's private-high-school tuition and college
husband testified that, when the wife and the child moved to
Baldwin County, the parties planned on the husband's
retiring and the wife's finding employment. The husband
testified that the wife never sought employment and refused
to work outside the home. The husband testified that his
income dropped significantly when he retired. The husband had
earned $231, 328 in 2013, but, in 2014, his income was $65,
487. The husband testified that, about six months after he
retired, he and the wife had a discussion about her spending
habits and the need for her to obtain employment but that the
wife refused to seek employment and instead told the husband
to find employment. The husband testified that, although she
transported the child to and from school, the wife would not
perform housework, including laundry and cleaning the house.
The husband also testified that the parties had not shared a
bed since 2007 or 2008.
husband testified that, in July 2014, as part of his
retirement planning, he created the Ronald Meehan Revocable
Trust ("the trust") for the purpose of ensuring
that all five of his children were taken care of after his
death. The husband has four children from his previous
marriages in addition to his child with the wife. The husband
placed into the trust lot 7 and lot 8 and a financial account
for his anticipated long-term-care expenses that the husband
had accumulated before the parties' marriage. The
long-term-care account had approximately $255, 000 in it at
the time of the trial. The husband testified that he had used
approximately $50, 000 from that account over the past year
to pay taxes, insurance, and expenses for lot 7 and lot 8.
husband testified that his monthly income was approximately
$4, 800, which consisted of a pension benefit, his Social
Security benefit, and a Social Security benefit that he
receives for the child until she reaches the age of
The husband testified that he had not drawn any money from
his retirement accounts since his retirement in May 2014 and
that he wanted to wait as long as possible before drawing
from his retirement accounts. The husband testified that he
had a retirement account with an approximate balance of $337,
000 and another retirement account with an approximate
balance of $538, 000. The husband testified that, when he
begins to draw income from his retirement accounts, his
monthly income will be between $5, 000 and $10, 000 per
month. The husband testified that his monthly expenses ranged
from $1, 500 to $1, 800. The husband testified that he could
afford to pay alimony to the wife for a short period.
wife described her relationship with the husband as
"being in prison." The wife testified that, on
average since 2004, the husband had deposited $10, 000 per
month in an account for the use of the wife and the child.
The wife testified that the husband had always paid off
credit-card account balances in full every month until June
2015. The wife testified that she and the husband had never
had discussions about her obtaining employment and that he
never restricted her spending.
wife testified that she had earned her general equivalency
diploma or GED. She testified that her last employment was
from 1994 to 2004 when she worked for a home-building company
and earned $65, 000 annually. The wife testified that she had
$43, 000 in a retirement account from that employment. The
wife testified that, over the past few months before trial,
she had sought employment at four or five different places
wife testified that she would need at least $7, 000 each
month in alimony. She testified that her basic monthly
expenses were $4, 221 per month and that she needed an
additional $2, 321 for other expenses, which included gas,
prescriptions, cell-phone expenses, vehicle maintenance,
insurance, clothing, shoes, etc. When asked how much she
would be willing to contribute to her monthly expenses, the
wife replied: "Depends on when I get a job and how much
March 18, 2016, the trial court entered the following order:
"MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT PURSUANT TO RULE 56 filed
by MEEHAN FELICIA ANN was set this date. Testimony concluded.
Following testimony, order issued with Attorney R. Powell to
prepare order." On March 31, 2016, the husband filed
what he described as a motion to alter, amend, or vacate the
trial court's March 18, 2016, order in which he
challenged the sufficiency of the evidence.
April 7, 2016, the trial court entered a final judgment. In
the judgment, the trial court ordered, among other things:
"6. The husband shall pay to the wife $574/month in
ongoing monthly child support until the child reaches the age
of majority. ... A copy of the completed Child Support
Guidelines has been submitted herewith for the Court's
record. Under no circumstances shall the payment of this
child support be dischargeable in bankruptcy.
"7. The husband shall be responsible for payment of the
child's health insurance premiums until she reaches the
age of majority, or until she is no longer insurable pursuant
to the policy provisions, whichever is longer.
"8. The husband shall be responsible for 100% of the
child's non-covered medical expenses, including any
deductibles therefor, until the child reaches majority. The
wife shall provide the husband with written documentation for
any non-covered medical expenses within thirty (30) days
after the date of said medical service. The husband shall
reimburse the wife 100% of said non-covered medical expense
within thirty (30) days thereafter.
"9. The parties shall make every reasonable effort to
communicate about medical expenses for the child, and
whenever possible, a joint decision shall be reached by the
parties regarding [the child's] medical treatment(s)
ahead of time. In the event the parties cannot agree, the
non-covered medical expense for that treatment shall be split
50/50 and reimbursement shall follow the same procedure set
"10. Based on the evidence provided at trial, the Court
finds that the effective date of the parties' marriage is
the same date as their ceremonial marriage, to-wit: August 6,
2006. The court does not find any credible evidence that a
Common Law marriage existed prior to the date of the
"11. The Court will accept the parties' stipulation
that the T. Rowe Price College tuition account created and
intended for [the child's] college tuition shall be
maintained and utilized solely for any and all tuition, room,
board, fees, books, or other college expenses until it is
exhausted. In the event that [the child] receives
scholarships, or that the funds in the said college tuition
account are not exhausted ...