Liberia: Finley to Pay Estranged Wife US$500 Monthly

Gbezongar  Finley.

Judge Kennedy Peabody of the Civil Law Court ‘A’ has ordered former pro-temp Gbezongar  Finley to pay his estranged wife, Kardiatu Findley US$500 monthly for support, while their divorce case remains undecided.

Judge Peabody said, “it is the considered opinion of this court that the petition for alimony should be granted, and same is hereby granted and modified to the extent that the respondent shall pay or caused to be paid to the petitioner, the amount of US$500, as of the date of filing the Action of Divorce before this court.”

Mr. Findley, on November 4, 2015, filed a ‘Divorce for Incompatibility of Temper’, but, while the divorce case is pending undecided, Mrs. Findley filed another petition, for Alimony, (financial support), wherein, she prayed the court to grant her the amount of US$15,000 per month, for her support and maintenance retroactively, as of her 2015 main suit.

Justifying her request, Madam Findley argued that she is entitled to said support because of her status, and the status of the respondent (Mr. Findley), in the Liberian society. The estranged wife once served as Special Assistant to the then President of the Republic of Liberia, Charles G. Taylor, and has been the wife of the respondent, who is a former Senator and Pro Tempore for the Liberian Senate, and former Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Judge Peabody’s ruling said his court is keen on Madam Findley’s demand for alimony, in the amount of US$15,000 per month to be paid retroactively and during the pendency of the divorce action.

“From the petitioner’s quest, one can deduce, based on a simple calculation, that the quest of the petitioner, when subject the respondent to a total retroactive payment of US$1,125,000, to be paid to the petitioner representing alimony for the period, November 4, 2015, to date,” the ruling said.

This amount, according to the judge, is astronomical and runs contrary to the laws controlling and tends to defeat the desired purpose for the award of alimony to a spouse for the sole purpose of support and maintenance, especially during the pendency of a divorce proceeding, as in the instant case.

“This could further say that the award of alimony is not intended to impose harsh consequences on the male spouse in a divorce action, but rather to provide support and maintenance for a spouse especially in the face of a divorce suit,” Peabody maintained in his judgment.

Peabody went on that the alimony in the amount of US$15,000 places an obligation on the petitioner to provide information as to the source of the respondent’s income that would be commensurate with the award so demanded.  However, the court said Madam Findley has bluntly failed to provide any such financial information to guard and attract the court to grant the alimony of US$15,000.

“The court says that the general principle governing the award of alimony is based on the spouse’s income and not on astronomical demand” the civil law court judge explained.

Defending his decision, Judge Peabody maintained that there is no record before the court to show that the respondent is employed, nor are there any financial records to show that the respondent is receiving income from other sources as being insinuated by the petitioner.

“It is now the legal obligation of this court to set appropriate award of alimony as justice requires and, considering the attending circumstances of the parties in these proceedings consistent with section 9.3 of the Domestic Relation Laws of Liberia, which seeks the discretion of the court in determining such case,” Peabody emphasized.