In League v League, Docket No. 261058 decided by the Michigan Court of Appeals on October 19, 2006, the defendant husband argued, in essence, “The devil made me do it.”
In a completely narcissistic argument, he attempted to make plaintiff wife responsible for half of the nearly $300,000 debt of restitution he owed their homeowner’s company after he burned down the parties’ marital residence and contents. He claimed this was caused by his wife’s extramarital air with another man. (Not that hubby was pure as the driven snow; he’d earlier had his own little peccadillos – which he dismissed as “mere encounters”).
The Court of Appeals resoundingly rejected his argument, stating:
"Defendant’s argument that his debt for criminal restitution should be treated as marital debt must fail. The debt to Safeco is a debt defendant created all on his own. A trial court may properly order that one party be required to pay a debt incurred during the course of the marriage if the court determines that the debt or the majority of it was incurred solely by that party. Lesko v Lesko, 184 Mich App 395, 401; 457 NW2d 695 (1990), overruled on other grounds 194 Mich App 284 (1992) (at 400, Noting that “[o]n closer examination, these ‘joint debts’ are not so ‘joint.’”). We note that the courts of this state have not spoken specifically to the issue of whether an innocent spouse may be liable for criminal restitution debt incurred by the partner spouse during the course of the marriage, probably because such an illogical and unreasonable argument has not before been made. We add that we have found just one state court to have squarely addressed this issue, and we cite with approval and adopt the Oklahoma appellate court’s disposition of the issue: “We find no abuse of discretion by the trial court's refusal to transfer the burden of Wife's criminal liability to the innocent spouse.” Thompson v Thompson, 105 P3d 346, 352 (2004). * * *
"We agree with the trial court that it is difficult to take seriously defendant’s contention that his wife’s affair so outraged him as to make his act of arson her fault when indeed he had conducted numerous affairs himself during the course of the marriage. We find illogical, and distasteful, defendant’s attempts to characterize his conduct as different from his wife’s conduct for the reason that he never intended his affairs to end the marriage, while she did.
"Likewise defendant’s argument that the Court should consider how the value of the marital home would have been divided had he not burned it down is ludicrous. Finally, we also reject defend somehow count against plaintiff in the division of assets."
Another argument advanced by the defendant was that the monies from the sale of property that were then paid to the plaintiff as support payments should be counted as a transfer of property to her rather than as spousal support.
Interesting case. You can read it in its entirety here:
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