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Loutts v. Loutts

Court of Appeals of Michigan

February 10, 2015

GEORGII B. LOUTTS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
IRINA
v.
LOUTTS, Defendant-Appellant

Editorial Note:

This opinion is subject to revision before final publication in the Michigan Court of Appeals reports.

Washtenaw Circuit Court. LC No. 08-002970-DM.

Before: SAAD, P.J., and OWENS and K.F. KELLY, JJ.

OPINION

Page 299

[309 Mich.App. 205] Per Curiam.

In this post-judgment divorce proceeding, defendant Irina Loutts appeals by leave granted[1] two orders issued by the trial court on July 17, 2013, and September 13, 2013, which, in toto, recalculated defendant's spousal support, but denied defendant's requests to modify and extend her spousal support, to award her attorney and expert witness fees, and to use the value of

Page 300

plaintiff's business for both property division and spousal support. For the reasons discussed below, we affirm.

I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The parties are Russian immigrants who were married in 1988 and came to the United States a few years later. They have one adult son. In 2000, plaintiff Georgii Loutts (referred to as George) started QPhotonics, a business that buys, sells, imports, and exports light emitting diodes and laser diodes. Plaintiff has a Ph.D in Materials Science earned in 1990 from General Physics Institute in Moscow, and he worked as a physics professor at Norfolk State University in Virginia until the parties moved to Ann Arbor in 2007.

Defendant has a Ph.D in International Relations, earned in 2004 from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, and a Master's degree in Economics from Moscow State University in Moscow. Defendant had earned $14,000 a year as an adjunct professor at Old Dominion, and she was hired as a bookkeeper/accountant for QPhotonics at a salary of [309 Mich.App. 206] $2,000 a month after the parties moved to Ann Arbor. In 2008, near the time plaintiff filed for divorce, defendant was fired from the QPhotonics job.

Plaintiff filed for divorce in December 2008. Following a bench trial, the parties' divorce judgment was entered on March 9, 2010. The trial court ruled that permanent spousal support was not appropriate " because both parties have PhDs, are in good health, and are clearly employable." However, plaintiff was required to pay defendant rehabilitative spousal support in the amount of $1,510 a month for a period of four years. Plaintiff was awarded the marital home, and defendant was ordered to vacate the home before April 1, 2010, which she did. The trial court determined the value of QPhotonics to be $280,000 and awarded the business to plaintiff, and half of its value, $140,000, to defendant. The rest of the property was split approximately equally, and plaintiff was ordered to pay defendant $247,788 as an equalizer.

At trial, defendant indicated some intent to develop a business similar to QPhotonics. Consequently, in the divorce judgment, the trial court ordered that defendant was restrained for three years from competing in any way with QPhotonics. Because both parties requested to be awarded the company and to have a noncompete restriction issued against the other spouse, this Court upheld the restriction. Loutts v. Loutts, 298 Mich.App. 21, 36; 826 N.W.2d 152 (2012) ( Loutts I ).

Following the judgment of divorce, defendant appealed in this Court, which remanded to the trial court to: (1) " address and decide defendant's request for attorney and expert fees under MCR 3.206(C)(2)(a)" ; (2) " redetermine spousal support, including whether the equities in the case warrant[ed] utilizing the value [309 Mich.App. 207] of QPhotonics for purposes of both property division and spousal support" ; and (3) " recalculate spousal support, imputing to defendant an income of $34,000." Loutts I, 298 Mich.App. at 25, 31, 34.

Nine months after this Court's decision to remand, defendant filed in the trial court a " Motion to Recalculate Spousal Support, Modify Spousal Support, and Extend It; and For Attorney Fees and Expert Witness Fees." Defendant requested that the trial court hold an evidentiary hearing on spousal support, attorney fees, and expert witness fees, and that it modify and extend her spousal support based on her continuing need for support and plaintiff's ability to pay. Defendant argued that her health had deteriorated substantially. Specifically, she alleged that she suffered

Page 301

from bleeding stomach ulcers that led to hospitalization on three occasions, the first occurring in March 2012. Nevertheless, defendant asserted that she continued to look for work. However, she alleged that she was unable to obtain suitable employment because she was overqualified for the few jobs that existed in her geographical ...


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