GEDDIS v. GEDDIS


GEDDIS v. GEDDIS

(unpublished)


SEPTEMBER 23, 1997
Record No. 3167-96-1

 

DORIS BURNETTE GEDDIS

v.

WALTER CLARENCE GEDDIS

MEMORANDUM OPINION[1]
BY JUDGE JOSEPH E. BAKER
FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE CITY OF NORFOLK

Marc Jacobson, Judge
Present: Judges Baker, Bray and Overton
Argued at Norfolk, Virginia

B. Thomas Reed for appellant.

Howard E. Copeland for appellee.


In this appeal from a judgment of the Circuit Court of the
City of Norfolk (trial court), Doris Burnette Geddis (wife)
contends that the trial court erred when it (1) imputed income to
her without supporting evidence and (2) awarded her insufficient
support. For the reasons that follow, we disagree and affirm the
ruling of the trial court.

Walter C. Geddis (husband) and wife were married November 27,
1964 in Norfolk. Husband had recently retired from the Navy and
worked first for a marine supply company and then for twenty
years at Norfolk Naval Shipyard. The couple raised wife’s six
children from two prior marriages. Wife worked in the home
providing child care services in addition to caring for her own
children. She earned about $7,000 in the last year she provided
child care services before, in December 1991, husband had a heart
attack followed by either a stroke or cerebral hemorrhage.

After returning home from the hospital, husband retired.
Thereafter, wife cared for him and managed the household until
March of 1994. During that month, husband struck wife on the back
of her head and left arm and leg with a heavy candle holder,
causing serious injuries requiring medical treatment and
counseling for wife.

At the time of the commissioner’s hearing, wife was one month
shy of seventy years of age and suffered from high blood pressure
and other ailments. Wife had not been gainfully employed as a
bookkeeper for over thirty years and was not so employed during
the parties’ marriage. However, in 1994, she had begun to perform
bookkeeping services on an unpaid basis for a friend who ran
Walls’ Marina. Wife performed the services of a "full charge
bookkeeper" weekly for thirty?five to forty hours.

Husband did not appear at the initial hearing. Appearing at a
later hearing, he did not testify but called a retired
bookkeeper, Ernestine R. Creech, who testified that she had
earned $13 per hour before retiring in July 1994. Creech had
reached that rate of pay after twenty-five years as a
professional bookkeeper and retired at age sixty-five.

Husband knew that wife performed bookkeeping services for the
marina but offered no evidence of what salary, if any, wife was
paid for her services, nor the extent of the services she
provided. Nor was any evidence presented as to the marketability
of a seventy?year?old woman in wife’s state of health.

Husband also did not offer any evidence of his monthly
obligations or debts. Husband received more than $1,900[2] per month in gross income from
Navy retirement, civil service and Social Security. Wife received
$330 per month in Social Security and, by agreement of the
parties as wife’s equitable distribution award, one?half of
husband’s $741 monthly retirement from Norfolk Naval Shipyard.
Wife claimed $2,000 per month in expenses. The commissioner
recommended that husband pay wife $300 per month in spousal
support. The trial court imputed income to wife at the rate of
$13 per hour and entered a decree consistent with the
commissioner’s recommendations.

Under familiar principles, we review the evidence "in the
light most favorable to the party prevailing below." Wilson
v. Wilson
, 12 Va. App. 1251, 1254, 408 S.E.2d 576, 578
(1991). "A judgment of the trial court will not be set aside
on the ground that it is contrary to the evidence unless it
appears from the evidence that such judgment is plainly wrong or
without evidence to support it." Dodge v. Dodge, 2
Va. App. 238, 242, 343 S.E.2d 363, 365 (1986). "The burden
is upon the party alleging trial court error to show by the
record that the judgment was erroneous." Steinberg v.
Steinberg
, 11 Va. App. 323, 326, 398 S.E.2d 507, 508 (1990).

"Whether a spouse is entitled to support, and if so how
much, is a matter within the sound discretion of the trial court
. . . ." Id. at 329, 398 S.E.2d at 510.

Here, the trial court reviewed the commissioner’s report and
the record and concluded that wife had the capability of earning
money by performing bookkeeping work. The record discloses that
wife could perform that service at least thirty?five hours per
week, and that the marina had a need for that service. We cannot
say that the trial court was plainly wrong or that its decree was
without evidence to support it when the court imputed income to
wife and required husband to contribute only $300 per month
toward wife’s support.[3]
See, e.g., Stubblebine v. Stubblebine, 22
Va. App. 703, 473 S.E.2d 72 (1996) (en banc) (court
may impute income to voluntarily unemployed or underemployed
spouse).

Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Affirmed.

 

 

FOOTNOTES:

[1] Pursuant to Code ? 17-116.010 this
opinion is not designated for publication.

[2] This figure does not include
wife’s share of husband’s shipyard retirement.

[3]
This opinion shall not be construed to prevent either party from
requesting modification of the support upon showing a change of
condition justifying such relief.

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