The recent Court of Appeals case of Butts v. Butts, Record No. 0296-20-4, July 14, 2020 from Loudoun County Circuit Court, shows the importance of having an expert opinion when complicated financial matters are at issue in a spousal support modification case.
In this case, the husband had been paying 800 dollars per month in spousal support to his ex-wife. The ex-wife received a lump sum inheritance from her father. The wife put the inheritance into an investment account bringing the total to $768,203. Due to the inheritance, the husband filed a motion to modify spousal support. He hoped to decrease the amount or to cancel it completely. At trial, the husband submitted a statement of the estimated earnings that he thought the ex-wife could earn from her investment account. The statement, however, was not prepared by an expert. The husband’s lack of an expert was the weak link that doomed his case.
The lack of an expert opinion did not impress the court. The court found that husband’s statement as to investment income was not sufficient. The court specifically referred to the lack of expert testimony in making its opinion.
The husband appealed but the Court of Appeals sustained the trial court’s ruling. This case is a reminder that whenever financial issues need to be proved in a domestic relations case, having expert testimony is often vital.