Not for Publication – Rule 111(c), Rules of the Arizona Supreme Court
Appeal from the Superior Court in Maricopa County No. FC2007-008020 The Honorable James T. Blomo, Judge
The Murray Law Offices, P.C., Scottsdale By Stanley David Murray Counsel for Petitioner/Appellant
The Law Office of Bert E. Moll, P.C., Chandler By Bert E. Moll Counsel for Respondent/Appellee
Presiding Judge Peter B. Swann delivered the decision of the Court, in which Judge Patricia K. Norris and Judge Diane M. Johnsen joined.
PETER B. SWANN PRESIDING JUDGE
¶1 Yucel Yalim ("Husband") appeals from the superior court's denial of his request to modify spousal maintenance awarded to Zeynep Yalim ("Wife"). We find no abuse of discretion and therefore affirm.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
¶2 Husband and Wife married in 1989 and divorced in 2009. The decree of dissolution ordered equitable division of the parties' wholesale jewelry business in the form of a lump-sum inventory payout to Wife. The decree also ordered Husband to pay spousal maintenance to Wife in the amount of $2, 000 per month for nine years.
¶3 In support of the spousal maintenance award, the court found that Wife lacked sufficient property to provide for her reasonable needs, was unable to be self-sufficient through appropriate employment, and lacked earning ability to be self-sufficient. The court concluded that Wife and Husband each required at least $5, 000 per month to provide for their reasonable needs and Husband was capable of earning at least $5, 400 per month but Wife would be unable to meet her earning potential of $2, 000 per month for at least a year. The court found that Husband had chosen self-employment in the jewelry business despite holding qualifications that had previously allowed him to earn more than $13, 000 per month, and Wife had not worked outside of the home for 19 years and had recently suffered serious health problems that gave her little opportunity to seek or prepare for employment.
¶4 Approximately six months after the decree was entered, the parties entered into an ARFLP 69 agreement modifying the method by which Wife would receive her equitable interest in the jewelry business. Under the agreement, Husband executed a promissory note in the amount of Wife's interest in the business and promised to make payments toward satisfaction of the debt in the amount of $3, 000 per month plus 50% of monthly gross revenue exceeding $10, 000. The agreement did not modify spousal maintenance.
¶5 Eight months later, Husband petitioned the court to terminate spousal maintenance. Husband contended that modification of the decree's award was warranted because the jewelry business had continued to decline. He also asserted that he had been forced to cut his monthly expenses but Wife had secured employment and purchased a new home. Wife objected to Husband's petition and the matter proceeded to an evidentiary hearing.
¶6 At the evidentiary hearing, Husband testified that he continued to operate the jewelry business because he had not worked in other industries for many years and the industry in which he was experienced had moved to other countries. He also testified that he had a large investment in the jewelry business and "wouldn't be able to pay [Wife] out her interest [under the ARFLP 69 agreement] if [he] wasn't working the business." According to Husband, the business had "declined substantially" because of the poor economy, even though sales had increased between 2010 and the first half of 2011. Husband claimed that he had been forced to reduce his monthly living expenses by adjusting his insurance coverage, selling a vehicle, and clipping coupons, but admitted that he had also expanded his business pursuits by purchasing over 130 internet domain names and at least $10, 000 in photography equipment.
¶7 Wife testified that she had purchased a home after the divorce using the property she received from the division of the parties' stock brokerage account, and had been employed as a dental assistant for the past two years, earning $12.50 per hour. Wife testified that her monthly expenses totaled $8, 600, including $2, 239 paid toward college tuition for the parties' adult children and $420 in mandatory retirement-account contributions. Wife's boyfriend testified that he had ...