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Jandreau v. Lachance

Supreme Judicial Court of Maine

May 14, 2015

MOLLY G. (LACHANCE) JANDREAU
v.
DANIEL L. LACHANCE

Submitted on Briefs February 26, 2015.

As Corrected May 28, 2015.

The portions of the judgment denying spousal support and attorney fees are vacated. The remainder of the divorce judgment is affirmed. Remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

On the briefs: Daniel W. Marra, Esq., Marden, Dubord, Bernier & Stevens, Waterville, for appellant Molly G. (LaChance) Jandreau.

Daniel L. LaChance did not file a brief.

Panel: ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, and HJELM, JJ.

OPINION

Page 1274

JABAR, J.

[¶1] Molly G. (LaChance) Jandreau appeals from a divorce judgment entered in the District Court (Waterville, Dow, J. ) dissolving her marriage to Daniel L. LaChance. Because we agree with Jandreau's contention that the court abused its discretion in denying her request for spousal support and attorney fees, we vacate and remand for reconsideration.

I. BACKGROUND

[¶2] Jandreau and LaChance married in February 1999, and their daughter was born in June 2000. In March 2013, Jandreau filed a complaint for divorce. The court found that Jandreau has an annual income of $14,212, which consists entirely of Social Security Disability Insurance

Page 1275

(SSDI) benefits. It found that LaChance has an annual income of $87,896.

[¶3] In April 2013, the parties consented to the entry of an interim order requiring LaChance to pay Jandreau $192 per week in child support. After participating in mediation, the parties agreed that LaChance would also pay Jandreau interim spousal support of $1,600 per month, commencing June 13, 2013. On May 29, 2013, the court entered an order reflecting the parties' agreement.

[¶4] LaChance paid the June spousal support payment in full and paid $50 in July. He then ceased making spousal support payments and fell behind in his child support payments. At trial, Jandreau testified that LaChance's failure to pay the ordered support payments rendered her unable to meet her daily living expenses, causing her to incur overdraft fees and to borrow from payday lenders and family.

[¶5] In October 2013, Jandreau filed a motion for contempt based upon LaChance's nonpayment of his interim support obligations. See M.R. Civ. P. 66(d). On November 15, 2013, the court held a consolidated trial on the contempt motion and the issues that had not been resolved through mediation in the divorce proceeding. Jandreau filed an updated child support affidavit and financial statement in advance of the trial as required by M.R. Civ. P. 108(d)(4). LaChance did not.

[¶6] At trial, the parties testified to the following facts. Jandreau is disabled due to anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, has multiple medical conditions, takes ten prescription medications, and sees both a counselor and a psychiatrist. She was forced to leave her most recent job because of her anxiety. At the time of trial, she had not worked for a full year or earned more than $10,000 through employment in any of the previous ten years.

[¶7] In addition to her own SSDI benefits, Jandreau receives $592 in monthly dependent SSDI benefits for the parties' daughter and $70 each month in food stamps. During the marriage, Jandreau was covered under LaChance's employer's health insurance policy, received MaineCare, and spent $104 per month on a supplemental Medicare plan. She did not incur out-of-pocket expenses for visits with her counselor or psychiatrist. After the divorce, Jandreau will no longer be covered by LaChance's health insurance and will be rendered ineligible for MaineCare by the child support order. Because of her disability, she will remain entitled to Medicare, but will have to purchase increased Medicare coverage at an additional monthly cost of $130. She may also incur out-of-pocket expenses for ...


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