LINCOLN — It’s an alimony case for the ages.
The Nebraska Supreme Court upheld a lower court decision Friday that requires a 95-year-old Pawnee City man to pay $3,200 in monthly alimony to his 96-year-old ex-wife. The couple were married for 32 years before their divorce last year.
Glenn Binder argued that Pawnee County District Judge Daniel Bryan Jr. abused his power by ordering an alimony payment that exceeds Binder’s monthly income. But the high court determined the amount was appropriate, given that the retired farmer and fertilizer dealer owns more than 200 acres of farmland.
Binder owned the land before 1982, when he and Laura Binder were married. In divorce proceedings, Laura Binder made no claim on the land, which was classified as a premarital asset.
An attorney for Glenn Binder said Friday’s ruling could have a significant impact on alimony calculation in future divorce cases.
“I think the court has given district judges the ability to utilize premarital property to satisfy an alimony obligation,” said attorney Claude Berreckman Jr. of Cozad.
The husband and wife were both in their 60s when they got married, after signing an agreement to keep their premarital assets separate. Both had children from previous marriages.
Laura Binder did not work outside the home, but she did assist her husband with his farming and fertilizer business.
In 2012, she moved into a nursing home, where she exhausted her personal savings in about 10 months. Now, her nursing home care accounts for nearly all her $6,200 in monthly expenses.
Glenn Binder, who lives in a mobile home, filed for divorce because the marriage was irretrievably broken. His attorney denied that the couple separated as a way to preserve assets, saying Binder’s income consists of his Social Security and land rental payments.
Glenn Binder argued in his appeal that the court-ordered alimony payment is driving him into poverty. To prove it, he submitted figures from the court’s child support guidelines.
In previous rulings, the Supreme Court has said child support takes precedence over alimony. And courts should not order alimony that forces an income below the poverty threshold if the person also is supporting minor children.
But the child support guidelines don’t apply to alimony cases when children aren’t involved, said Judge William Connolly, who wrote the court’s opinion. And the record shows that Glenn Binder owns land with a taxable value in excess of $500,000.
“The land is not irrelevant to alimony even though it is Glenn’s premarital property,” Connolly wrote. “A court may consider all of the property owned by the parties — marital and separate — in decreeing alimony.”
Glenn Binder now finds himself with two options. He can sell his farmland, or he can borrow against it to make his alimony payments, his attorney said.
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