from the Circuit Court of St. Francois County Hon. Troy K.
S. Van Amburg, Judge.
Michael Layden (Husband) appeals the trial court's
judgment of modification, as well as its judgment awarding
Respondent Nicole Layden (Wife) attorney's fees on
appeal. We affirm in part and reverse in part.
2, 2010, the marriage of Husband and Wife was dissolved.
Pursuant to the terms of the parties' Stipulation
Agreement, Husband was to pay to Wife the sum of $500 per
month in maintenance. On or about September 13, 2012, Husband
initiated the underlying action by filing a motion to modify
requesting the reduction or termination of his maintenance
obligation. He filed a first amended motion to modify on or
about February 13, 2013. Wife filed a counter-motion to
modify seeking an increase in maintenance.
to tax documentation filed by Wife, her social security
income totaled $11, 724.00 in 2010 and $12, 749.00 in 2015. According
to Husband's tax returns, he had a gross income of $46,
239.00 in 2010 and $41, 884.06 in 2015. According to the 2014
tax returns of Husband and his current wife, Husband's
total household income is $104, 843.00.
trial, Wife testified in support of her request for increased
maintenance. She testified that her sole sources of income
were social security and the maintenance provided by Husband.
Wife was declared disabled in 1996 after a diagnosis of manic
bipolar with suicidal tendencies, and she had not worked
since that time. Wife testified
that in addition to this diagnosis, she also suffered from
degenerative disc disease, osteoporosis, psoriatic arthritis,
rheumatoid arthritis, low thyroid, and high blood pressure,
among other ailments. She testified that she took 28
medications daily. Some of her cost of medication was covered
by Medicare, Part B, and the premium was taken out of her
social security disability payment. Wife testified that since
2009, she had trouble meeting her medical expenses and
incurred debt. She testified that she had no pension, 401k
account, or retirement accounts in her name.
testified that she rented a 1, 200 square foot home. At the
time of the divorce, she and Husband lived in a 2, 800 square
foot Victorian home. She testified that her monthly income,
including the $500 maintenance payments, totaled $1, 458.00
and her monthly expenses totaled $1, 761.55,  which included rent, utility payments,
automobile expenses, insurance premiums, payments on
installment contracts, and miscellaneous living expenses. She
testified that the year of her divorce, she was diagnosed
with three extreme medical issues, which resulted in a debt
of $2, 000. She testified that from January through April
2015, Husband stopped making maintenance payments, and she
successfully obtained a court order garnishing Husband's
wages. She testified that she experienced significant
financial hardship during this period.
testified in support of his request to reduce or terminate
his maintenance obligation to Wife. He testified that he
starting have problems paying maintenance after his employer
demoted him from deputy warden to case manager II and
transferred him to a correctional center 60 miles from his
home. Husband testified that he was demoted after a
disciplinary action by his supervisor for being
"unprofessional in my behavior." He testified that
he offended his female supervisor, but did not intend to do
so. As a result of the demotion, Husband testified that his
income decreased by $600.00 per month.
testified that after his demotion, he applied for a housing
manager position with the Department of Corrections. He
received an interview, but was not selected. He testified
that he was on a register for different positions within the
Department of Corrections that would allow him to "move
up the ladder again." He took a part-time job at
Lowe's to try to make up for the difference in his income
caused by the demotion. However, Husband admitted that he
stopped making maintenance payments to Wife because he could
not afford to pay them after his demotion. Before
Husband's wages were garnished, Husband testified that
his current wife had to help him pay maintenance, and he
testified that he depleted his savings account. Husband
testified that his average monthly expenses were $3,
044.50. He testified that some of
his monthly expenses were shared with his current wife,
including his monthly mortgage payment and his household
expenses. Husband admitted that their combined monthly
household income totaled $6, 281.51.
provided testimony that if his maintenance obligation was
terminated, Wife would be eligible for public assistance,
including food stamps and energy assistance. Specifically, he
testified that if his $500 maintenance payment was
terminated, Wife would be eligible for $800 in public
assistance from different agencies.
trial court entered a judgment denying Husband's motion
to modify. It found Husband's testimony regarding his
demotion not credible and declined to order a reduction or
termination of maintenance based on Husband's misconduct.
It further found that Husband did not have a house payment
and that the house in which he resided was his current
wife's premarital property. The trial court also found
that he was not responsible for the association fees for the
community in which the home was located. It found that
Husband's unilateral termination of his maintenance
payments during the pendency of the action was unreasonable.
The court found this caused a significant hardship on Wife,
who was unable to obtain her prescriptions and had to borrow
money from friends and family to meet her basic needs. It
also found that Husband admitted that during the period of
time he had to pay $750 per month in maintenance to Wife (he
was paying an additional $250 per month in maintenance under
the garnishment), he and his current wife were able to pay
all of their household bills. It further found that based on
Wife's Statement of Income and Expenses, her expenditures
exceeded her income by $800.00 per month. The court found
that "Wife is in need of additional maintenance"
and that "Husband has the ability to pay." The
trial court found that Husband had a greater ability to pay
attorney's fees than Wife and that Husband's conduct
during the pendency of the suit was such that Husband should
be assessed the attorney's fees of Wife. The trial court
entered a judgment granting Wife's counter-motion to
modify. Husband was ordered to pay $800.00 per month, as well
as $2, 000.00 in Wife's attorney's fees. This appeal
court-tried action to modify a maintenance award, we conduct
our review in accordance with the standards enunciated in
Murphy v. Carron, 536 S.W.2d 30, 32 (Mo. banc 1976).
We will uphold the court's judgment unless the judgment
is not supported by the evidence, is against the weight of
the evidence, or erroneously declares or applies the law.
Id. "An appellate court will defer to the trial
court on its decision to modify a maintenance award even if
the evidence could support a different conclusion."
evidence and reasonable inferences drawn therefrom are viewed
in the light most favorable to the prevailing party.
Id. The trial court is in a superior position to
judge witness credibility and sincerity and, as such, may
accept all, part, or none of any witness's testimony.
Id. All fact issues upon which the trial court
failed to make specific findings are considered as having
been found in accordance with the judgment. Rustemeyer v.
Rustemeyer, 148 S.W.3d 867, 870 (Mo. App. E.D. 2004);
Rule 73.01. The ...