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Murphy v. Murphy

Supreme Court of Maine
816 A.2d 814 (2003)


Michael Murphy (plaintiff) filed a petition for divorce from his wife, Stephanie Murphy (defendant), after 26 years of being together. During the relationship, Michael financially supported the family while Stephanie stayed home and raised their son, Brendon. However, after several years, the couple agreed to separate and eventually divorced. The Murphys agreed that Brendon would continue to live with Michael in the marital residence but would visit Stephanie, who lived with a domestic partner. At a hearing, Stephanie testified that she wanted to attend college to earn a degree to become a sign-language interpreter. Additionally, Stephanie said that she was in need of substantial dental work estimated to cost about $11,250 and wished to continue therapy to treat her depression. The trial court awarded exclusive possession of the $120,000 marital home to Michael, as well as the obligation to pay the mortgage. The trial court divided the Murphys’ other assets and ordered Michael to pay Stephanie $50,000 to ensure a more equitable division of property. Finally, the court awarded Stephanie $60,000 in transitional spousal support to cover her educational needs as well as her medical and dental costs. Michael appealed. Stephanie cross-appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in the determination, valuation, and division of marital property, as well as the failure to order Michael to pay her attorneys’ fees.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Clifford, J.)

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