APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE SECOND JUDICIAL CIRCUIT MINNEHAHA COUNTY, SOUTH DAKOTA THE HONORABLE KATHLEEN K. CALDWELL Judge
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Severson, Justice
CONSIDERED ON BRIEFS ON AUGUST 27, 2012
[¶1.] Nicole and Michael Hagedorn were married for 15 years and had two daughters. In December 2010, Nicole filed for divorce on the grounds of extreme cruelty and adultery. The trial court granted Nicole a divorce on those grounds and awarded her alimony of $5,000 per month and attorney fees. Michael appeals the awards of alimony and attorney fees. We affirm the trial court.
[¶2.] Nicole and Michael Hagedorn married in Brookings, South Dakota, on August 10, 1996. Prior to their marriage, Nicole and Michael dated for several years while Michael attended South Dakota State University in Brookings. On March 25, 1993, Nicole gave birth to the couple's oldest daughter. Nicole and Michael's second daughter was born on April 29, 2005. Both Nicole and Michael are currently in their early 40s and in good health.
[¶3.] Michael earned a bachelor's of science degree in economics and business from South Dakota State University. After completing his degree in 1995, he worked in Minnesota before returning to Sioux Falls to work for Norwest Bank. He began working for Central Billing Incorporated (CBI) in early 1998, selling and servicing cash registers and point of sale systems. In 1999, he purchased the business for $27,500. Michael paid for the purchase with loans from his father and a bank. He paid both his father and the bank back within six months of the purchase. The business grew as Michael expanded available product lines, added services, and marketed the company throughout the region. In addition, at the time of trial, Michael worked on a contract basis for Sprint/MBO Partners providing technical support services at the Communication Service for the Deaf Relay Services location in Sioux Falls.
[¶4.] Nicole earned an applied associate of science degree from Killian
Community College in Sioux Falls. After receiving her degree, she sought work as a legal assistant, but was unsuccessful. She found full-time employment as a mailroom clerk, then a receptionist, and then a flexible benefits claims processor at Sanford Health in Sioux Falls. Nicole worked at Sanford for over five years before she and Michael decided that it would be better for the family and the business if Nicole worked at CBI. Nicole began working full-time as an administrative assistant at CBI and continued working there until early 2011.
[¶5.] Throughout their marriage, Michael and Nicole disagreed about
Michael's drinking habits. Michael frequently spent time on the weekends drinking with friends and family. Nicole testified that when Michael was drinking he was verbally abusive and called her a variety of derogatory names.
[¶6.] Beginning in the summer and early fall of 2009, Nicole and Michael lived separately. When Michael lived in the family's cabin at Lake Madison, Nicole lived with their daughters in the family's Sioux Falls residence. The parties switched locations during the summer of 2010 and switched back for the school year. Michael also rented an apartment in Sioux Falls for a period of time. During the separation, Michael began dating a family friend. His relationship with the woman continued off and on through June 2011. Additionally, Michael admitted to Nicole that he was having a relationship with another woman in early 2010.
[¶7.] In December 2010, Nicole filed for divorce. A trial was held from
September 27 through 29, 2011. At trial, the most significant issues were alimony and division of property. Nicole and Michael agreed that Michael would retain ownership of CBI. CBI produced between $215,000 and $276,000 of income per year in the last three years for the family, though these figures also include Michael's income from his work for Sprint/MBO Partners. A vocational expert evaluated Nicole's earning capacity and testified at trial that she would likely earn between $10 and $12 per hour in her future employment.
[¶8.] Judge Caldwell awarded alimony to Nicole in the amount of $5,000 per month for life or until she remarries. This award was slightly less than Nicole's projected budget of $5,135 per month. Judge Caldwell also awarded attorney fees and costs, totaling $14,419.43, to Nicole. Michael appeals the judgment of alimony and ...