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Spillane and Spillane

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 03-28-2012
Case #: A142043
Haselton, P.J. for the Court; Armstrong, J.; and Duncan, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/Publications/A142043.pdf

Family Law: The party requesting modification or termination of spousal support has the burden of demonstrating a current, substantial, and unanticipated change of circumstances from the time of the dissolution that precludes the earning capacity of the paying spouse.

Petitioner Pearl Spillane (wife) appealed the termination of an indefinite maintenance spousal support award. At dissolution, this award was based on wife's age and limited income which prevented her from enjoying the same standard of living she had during the marriage. Three years later, the trial court granted Maurice Spillane's (husband) motion to terminate his spousal support obligation pursuant to ORS 107.135(3)(a), asserting changes in his economic circumstances from the time of dissolution as a result of his failing health and the current economic times. On appeal, wife contended that husband failed to meet his burden of proof of a current, substantial, and unanticipated change in circumstances. The Court concluded that the husband failed to demonstrate a current inability to earn wages and that his inability to work due to health reasons was speculative. Furthermore, husband failed to prove his declining health was unanticipated. Finally, he also failed to offer testimony regarding the economic downturn and the decreased market value of his real property. The Court concluded that husband enjoys a standard of living substantially similar to the time of dissolution and held that the trial court erred in terminating husband's spousal support obligation. Reversed.