Leslie Spoltore, a partner in our Wilmington, Delaware office, just posted a blog entry on an unusual alimony argument made on appeal to the Delaware Supreme Court. The family court evaluated the ex-wife’s expenses when calculating alimony she would pay to her ex-husband and reduced the significant contributions she made to her church down to what it deemed a "reasonable" amount of $100.00. The Court considered it a voluntary reduction in income. This is not unlike how Pennsylvania’s courts add back, for instance, voluntary contributions to 401(k) accounts when calculating child support and alimony pendete lite.
On appeal, the ex-wife claimed that the Court’s assessment of alimony based on their consideration of her available income resulted in her inability to appropriately tithe her church and violated her First Amendment freedom of speech.
It is an interesting and creative argument, but did not carry her case and the Supreme Court ruled the family court could consider any factor it deems appropriate and nothing prohibited her from contributing as much as she would like to her church.