It's okay that it's per curiam because the case really lives and dies on its facts. Richard is the husband, and Richard is the shirking appellant who, incredibly, thought he might undo a discretionary decision.
I've said unremarkably and incredibly, and those are warranted because the facts of the case show why Richard was going to lose this one, hands down, and why the case is really both fascinating and pretty nonprecedential, but still worth looking at if only for entertainment purposes.
Richard had a contract with his job that guaranteed him quarterly raises of $4,000 each quarter, and six months' severance pay if he was terminated after July 2011. In March 2010, Richard filed for divorce, and then Richard quit his job two months prior to the divorce trial. Richard said he did that to care for his mom, but the trial court didn't seem to believe that and held that Richard was shirking, imputing $78,000 in income to Richard.
Richard then appealed that, claiming that the decision was in error, and the Court of Appeals thus got to review some of the facts.
Facts like: Richard claimed he didn't know that his contract had that six-month severance clause and quit to avoid being laid off. That, the Court of Appeals seemed to think unlikely: Richard holds an MBA from Notre Dame and admitted he read the contract.
And facts like: Richard claimed he quit his job to care for his mom, having to do so because his sister was sick with pancreatic cancer. The Court of Appeals noted that Richard's mom denied that Richard was living there and "she had no idea of his whereabouts." As for the sick sister, she apparently testified that shortly after Richard quit his job, she and Mom went on a "12-day cruise."
But THAT should not have mattered, because, Richard said (for the first time, on appeal) quitting was "an act of self-preservation." (The Court of Appeals' words, not mine): Richard's dad had died 14 months earlier and he hated his job, so in Richard's mind, leaving his job "to take care of himself" (Richard's words) was similar to the Chen case where the doctor quit her job to stay home with the kids.
But, the Court of Appeals noted, "Richard's motivations fit none of those kinds of considerations" that let the Court uphold Chen's decision, because Richard's decision to quit his job was unreasonable.
(That latter part is the only minor quibble I have with the Court: the Court says of Richard that "[e]ven if his voluntary reduction in income was well-intended, his decision was unreasonable in light of his maintenance obligations," but that's putting the cart before the horse: Richard would have had no maintenance obligations if his quitting was reasonable, so maintenance obligations cannot justify (or unjustify) a quit. If, for example, Richard really had health reasons to quit, that decision might be reasonable and so might mean that Richard wasn't shirking, and so he had no maintenance obligations. But that's a minor quibble: Richard's decision to quit a job that could not have fired him without paying him six months' severance, to take care of a mom that didn't need taking care of and didn't know where he was, was unreasonable.)
And in any event, Richard appears to have been a singularly unsympathetic witness:
That kind of stuff never helps a case.
The trial court said it was "hard-pressed to believe" any of Richard's testimony. It specifically found that Richard perjured hismelf at his depositions... when he testified that he had no knowledge of the marital funds from a 401(k) account, when he actually had cashed in the account and gambled the funds away.