Will A Court Consider Income From Growing Medical Marijuana In A Divorce?
The Michigan Court of Appeals recently considered this issue in the matter of Beauchamp v Beauchamp (Unpublished Opinion, October 23, 2018). In that case, the husband originally ran a drywall business when the parties married, however over time the business morphed into a medical marijuana growing operation. The wife sought alimony based upon income she alleged her husband earned growing and selling.
The wife's divorce lawyer hired an expert in the field of marijuana plant street value to examine the facility and the plants and provide testimony regarding the practices surrounding the industry. The trial court put a lot of weight upon the testimony of the expert compared to the testimony of the husband. It determined that the husband netted approximately four thousand, seven hundred, thirty-seven ($4,737) dollars per month from activities solely related to the growing operation. The court also determined that the wife was at a net loss each month of approximately one thousand, six hundred, eighty-five ($1,685) dollars per month. It then ordered the husband to pay the wife one thousand, nine hundred ($1,900) dollars per month in spousal support.
The husband appealed claiming that it was an error for the divorce court to consider income he derived from the growing operation when calculating alimony. The husband claimed that under the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA) he is unable to legally profit from the growth and sale of medical marijuana. The Court of Appeals found that it was true that he could not legally profit from the sale, it also found that it was completely proper for the trial court to include the income he actually earned from the sale when calculating alimony regardless of the legality of the underlying operation. The court went on to say that the husband was not on trial in the divorce court and there was no indication that any law agency intended to proceed against him. If that did happen, then the husband could petition the court for a reduction in the alimony.
Divorce is a very complicated area of the law. If you are contemplating a divorce or concerned that your spouse is considering filing for divorce, please contact my assistant Cathy at (248) 608-4123 to schedule a consultation or contact us through the web site.