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Viola v. Viola

Supreme Judicial Court of Maine

January 29, 2015

MARIA K. VIOLA
v.
GORDON E. VIOLA

Submitted On Briefs December 18, 2014

On the briefs:

Paul Aranson, Esq., Sanford, for appellant Gordon E. Viola.

Janet K. Kantz, Esq., Vincent, Kantz, Pittman & Thompson, LLC, Portland, for appellee Maria K. Viola.

Panel: SAUFLEY, C.J., and MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, and HJELM, JJ.

OPINION

Page 635

MEAD, J.

[¶1] Gordon E. Viola appeals from a divorce judgment entered by the District Court (Portland, Mulhern, J.) ordering him to pay spousal support, marital debt obligations, and attorney fees to Maria K. Viola. We vacate the portion of the judgment regarding attorney fees and remand for redetermination of a reasonable amount. We affirm the judgment in all other respects.

I. BACKGROUND

[¶2] The court found the following facts, which are supported by evidence in the record. Gordon and Maria Viola were married in South Portland on February 14, 1992. A few months prior to their marriage, Gordon purchased a house at 44 Stillman Street in South Portland for use as a family residence. On June 6, 2008, Gordon conveyed the property to both parties as joint tenants. The Stillman Street property has a fair market value of about $300,000 and an associated mortgage debt of about $87,000. Stillman Street property has a fair market value of about $300,000 and an associated mortgage debt of about $87,000.

[¶3] On September 19, 2012, Maria filed for divorce. On November 13, 2012, the parties opened a $100,000 home equity line of credit secured by the Stillman Street property. Using those funds and an additional $10,000 of marital funds, they purchased a property at 7 Rangeley Road in Windham. The parties stipulated to an interim order pursuant to which Maria

Page 636

would reside at the Stillman Street property and Gordon would reside at the Rangeley Road property. Gordon was also ordered to obtain a conventional mortgage and pay off the home equity loan as soon as possible.[1] The current fair market value of the Rangeley Road property is about $150,000.

[¶4] At the time of the trial, Gordon was fifty-one years old and employed as a merchant mariner. He earned about $90,000 in 2013. Maria was forty-seven years old and had been a stay-at-home mother for seventeen years. During that time, she ran the household, raised the children, and handled the family finances. At the time of the trial, Maria was earning about $13 per hour working in a temporary position that would be ending soon. She had applied online for numerous positions paying $10 to $12 per hour and attended job interviews but received no offers. Her job search was hindered by Gordon, who failed to pay the phone and internet bills as ordered, resulting in a disruption of both ...


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