Lutz v. Lutz
A court can find one party at greater fault for the breakdown of the marital relationship. In 1979, the wife's mother died unexpectedly and the parties, who had been dating for years, married. The wife, who had earned a master's degree in business administration and worked at an accounting firm, suffered depression when one of their children, who was born prematurely, died, that child's twin suffered serious developmental issues, and the family moved from Connecticut to Chicago. In Chicago, the husband was often away on business trips, and the wife was often alone. The wife insisted that the parties return to Connecticut. The husband's career was disrupted, and he allegedly resented the wife because she refused to work full time. The wife maintained that the husband called her a "freeloader" and became distant and angry. Currently, the husband, 56, earns $130,000 gross per year at Premier Care Industries, as vice president of sales and marketing. The wife, 56, earns about $6,000 gross per year as a part-time driver. The parties contributed to their children's college educations, spent the proceeds from the sale of their residence, and are in the process of filing for bankruptcy. The court found the husband, who allegedly failed to comprehend the wife's suffering as a result of the deaths of her mother and child, at greater fault for the breakdown of the marital relationship. The wife, who worked to raise the children and to maintain the home, was not a "freeloader." The court ordered the husband to pay alimony of $1,050 per week, plus 33 percent of the net proceeds of any bonus greater than $20,000 per year, until the wife's death, marriage or cohabitation. The wife may earn up to $30,000 gross per year, as a safe harbor, without earnings being considered a basis to modify alimony. The court ordered the husband to name the wife the beneficiary of his life insurance, as long as he is obligated to pay alimony. The court awarded the wife 60 percent of the husband's retirement accounts. The court ordered the parties to hold each other harmless from debt.