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Wrenn v. Lewis

Supreme Judicial Court of Maine
818 A.2d 1005 (Me. 2003)


David Lewis (plaintiff) filed a motion to modify a divorce judgment against Cheryl Wrenn (defendant), seeking to reduce his child-support obligation and eliminate the payment of spousal support and the requirement that Lewis maintain a life-insurance policy with Wrenn as the beneficiary. The motion was based upon the anticipated loss of Lewis’s $63,000-per-year job. As a displaced textile worker, Lewis received unemployment benefits totaling approximately $14,300 per year. Lewis decided to become an airline pilot, rather than seek a management position in other manufacturing sectors in the state. The pilot-training program required only nine hours of Lewis’s time per week. The trial court found that Lewis had failed to pursue a meaningful employment search, despite the existence of several out-of-state management positions with starting salaries ranging from $40,000 to $50,000 per year. Instead of using the amount of Lewis’s unemployment benefits as the basis to calculate his income, the trial court reduced Lewis’s child-support obligation using an imputed income of $50,000 per year, based on Lewis’s ability to obtain one of the potential distant job opportunities. The trial court denied Lewis’s request to eliminate his spousal support and life and health-insurance obligations. The court reasoned that Lewis had voluntarily chosen to remain unemployed for an extended period of time without giving any consideration to his child and spousal support responsibilities. Lewis appealed.

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