The Third Department, reversing (modifying) Supreme Court, determined the wife was entitled to maintenance in this divorce proceeding. The parties had been married for 44 years. The wife’s income was around $31,000 and the husband’s income was around $117,000. Both were retired. The Third Department noted that Supreme Court did not give any indication of its rationale for rejecting the wife’s application and adopted the husband’s findings of fact and conclusions of law:
“The amount and duration of a maintenance award are addressed to the sound discretion of the trial court, and will not be disturbed provided that the statutory factors and the parties’ predivorce standard of living are considered” … .. “The court need not articulate every factor it considers, but it must provide a reasoned analysis of the factors it ultimately relies upon in awarding or declining to award maintenance” … .
Supreme Court wholly adopted verbatim the husband’s proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law, without articulating the factors it considered or providing a reasoned analysis for its rulings on the proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law. “[F]indings of fact submitted pursuant to CPLR 4213 (a) cannot constitute the decision of the court [as] mandated by Domestic Relations Law § 236 (B) (5) (g)” … . Although Supreme Court failed to set forth its rationale for rejecting the wife’s request for maintenance, “because our authority is as broad as that of the Supreme Court, we need not remit this issue” … . Louie v Louie, 2022 NY Slip Op 02172, Third Dept 3-31-22
Practice Point: Here in this divorce proceeding the judge did not give any indication of the rationale for rejecting the wife’s request for maintenance and wholly adopted the husband’s findings of fact and conclusions of law. Findings of fact cannot constitute a court’s decision. Rather than remitting the matter, the Third Department awarded maintenance.