April 19, 2018
Legal Aid attorney Dominque Razzook recently had a favorable outcome representing a Webster County woman in a spousal support case which was appealed to the West Virginia Supreme Court. After more than 33 years of marriage, "Beth" was divorcing her husband. She was the homemaker of their house and farm, as well as the primary caretaker of the couple’s two children, and her ex-husband had his own construction business.
When trying to determine the financials, her ex-husband submitted what the Family Court decision called “wholly incredible and unsupported” business net-income assertions. He argued on both levels of appeal that, because he did not keep any official records, the Family Court was obliged to wholeheartedly adopt his estimates. The Circuit Court, unfortunately, agreed with the husband in this case. As a result, Beth’s spousal support was reduced by more than $1,000 a month. The Family Court called this reduction “a total travesty of justice.”
Razzook appealed to the West Virginia Supreme Court and received a stay of the Circuit Court order, reinstating the $1,500 monthly support to Beth until a final decision could be made on the matter. Legal Aid received the signed order at the beginning of March that the Supreme Court ordering that the original award of $1,500 be reinstated. The Supreme Court found that “the circuit court inexplicably ignored the credibility determinations made by the family court, as well as its reasoning supporting these determination, and replaced those determinations with its own – something our law prohibits both the circuit court and this Court from doing.”
“I am happy that justice was served,” says Razzook, after more than three years of divorce litigation. “The hard work culminating up to this decision could not have been accomplished without all the teamwork, support, and hard work from many people at Legal Aid, especially the dedication of Legal Support Counsel, Bruce Perrone.