The Nebraska Supreme Court upheld a district court’s decision to force a 95-year-old Nebraska man to pay his ex-wife more in alimony than he earns each month.
Glenn Binder, a retired farmer who owned a fertilizer business in Pawnee City, now says he’s being forced into poverty by the decree, which requires him to pay $3,300 in alimony each month to his ex-wife Laura, who is 96 and lives in a nursing home.
The nonagenarians married in 1982 and had adult children from previous marriages. But the couple divorced last year citing an “irretrievable” marriage. Laura entered a nursing home in December 2012, and Glenn continued living in the couple’s trailer home.
Laura, who did not work while married to Glenn, depleted her savings 10 months after moving into the nursing home, according to the Supreme Court’s decision. At that point, Glenn began paying $3,200 per month and says he has spent a total of $30,000.
Glenn was ordered to pay the $3,300 in alimony in order “to offset any costs [Laura] has at the nursing home.” At their initial trial, Glenn Binder testified that his ex-wife did only “minimal work” to help his farming and fertilizer business while they were married. She said that she helped with minor tasks.
Laura has a monthly income of $2,927 from social security, insurance benefits, and a previous husband’s pension. Her monthly expenses are $6,230, most of which is owed to her nursing home.
Glenn’s monthly income is lower than his ex-wife’s He pulls in $2,890 per month. Of that, $1,700 is rental income while the rest comes from social security.
According to the lower court’s decree, in addition to the monthly alimony payment, Glenn was forced to pay Laura $15,000 for her interest in their mobile home. That is the current value of the domicile, though Laura purchased it for $25,000.
It is the land Glenn Binder owned prior to the couple’s marriage that factored into the alimony ruling. The retiree owns more than 200 acres worth approximately $560,000. According to his attorney, Binder must either sell some of that land or take out a loan against it in order to pay alimony to Laura.
“I think the court has given district judges the ability to utilize premarital property to satisfy an alimony obligation,” Binder’s attorney Claude Berreckman Jr. told the Omaha World-Herald.
The Supreme Court rejected Binder’s appeal on the grounds that his legal rationale did not hold water. Binder argued his alimony was too high under Nebraska Child Support Guidelines. Those rules state that a parent of a minor child cannot also be forced to pay alimony which causes that parent to go into poverty. The Supreme Court rejected that logic since the Binders have no minor children. The ruling upheld the lower court’s discretionary decision.