On August 15, 2017, the New Hampshire Supreme Court in the case of Dow and Dow held that, for calculating an alimony award, income may be imputed to both the paying spouse and the recipient spouse. In Dow, the parties’ divorce decree did not award either party alimony, although the Court found the wife had a need for alimony. After the divorce, the husband obtained new employment, and the wife filed a motion requesting alimony. The husband argued that the wife was voluntarily underemployed as she had previously worked at a position where she earned $21.00 per hour. The trial court awarded the wife alimony stating that it did not believe it could impute income to the wife in determining whether there was a need for alimony. The Supreme Court disagreed holding that the employment prospects of both spouses were relevant, and therefore, a spouse could argue that the recipient is underemployed or unemployed and therefore should not receive alimony. This case enables a paying spouse to make an additional argument when a request for alimony is made that the recipient spouse has the ability to earn enough money so alimony is not necessary. In some cases, it may be necessary to employ a vocational expert to examine the spouse’s skills and employment history and match the spouse to positions which are available in the job market.
Andrew J. Piela is a Director at Hamblett & Kerrigan, P.A. Mr. Piela concentrates his practice in civil litigation, family law, probate and land use litigation. You can reach Attorney Piela by e-mail at [email protected].