HERRMANN, Chief Justice:
In this appeal, the appellant Husband seeks reversal of a Family Court Order (1) directing him to pay alimony
The parties were married in 1956; they separated in 1979; and the Husband's petition for divorce was granted in 1980.
In ordering the property division, the Family Court recognized an imbalance of almost $16,000 favoring the Wife. However, the distribution was deemed equitable, in light of the 23-year marriage, the disparity in income, the Husband's eligibility for a pension within 11 years, and the Wife's ineligibility for Social Security benefits for another 20 years.
The Husband asserts that the Family Court abused its discretion in ordering alimony. Specifically, he argues that, as an essential statutory basis for alimony, the Trial Court failed to make the necessary finding that the Wife was dependent upon the Husband for support, or that she had insufficient income or property with which to finance her needs, or that she was unable to obtain employment providing adequate income. Further, the Husband asserts error because the Court failed to "find that [Wife's] dependence would continue throughout the term of the alimony award." Accordingly, the Husband argues that the requisite provisions of § 1512 were not fulfilled.
In making an award of alimony, the Family Court is invested with broad powers; an alimony award will not be overturned by this Court unless there has been an abuse of discretion. R. E. T. v. A. L. T., Del.Supr., 410 A.2d 166 (1979). The party seeking alimony must prove by a preponderance of the evidence dependency upon the other party. § 1512(b): Husband B. v. Wife B., Del.Supr., 295 A.2d 701 (1972). Specifically, as the applying party, the Wife must show that she "[l]acks sufficient property... to provide for [her] reasonable needs; and is unable to support ... [herself] through appropriate employment." § 1512(b).
Dependency, while not defined by the Statute, means more than a minimal existence or subsistence level. Its meaning is to be "measured against the standard of living established by the parties during their marriage." Husband J. v. Wife J., Del.Fam.Ct., 413 A.2d 1267, 1269 n.2 (1979).
While not explicitly spelled out, as should have been done,
In light of the sharp imbalance in the financial positions of the parties, we conclude that the Trial Court did not abuse its discretion in making the alimony award. It implicitly recognized the disparity in incomes, the rehabilitative aspects of alimony contemplated by 13 Del.C. § 1502(6),
The Husband's second contention is that the Family Court abused its discretion in the division of marital property. The Husband argues reversible error in that the Trial Court did not apply the factors listed in § 1513(a). He asserts that the Trial Court ordered an equal distribution — again without setting forth reasons. Further, the Husband argues that the Trial Court abused its discretion in ruling that (1) the wife's contributions as a homemaker were equal to the substantial salary of the husband; and (2) the speculative value of the Husband's pension fund was equal to the certain value of the marital domicile.
Again in this facet of the case, the Trial Court's supporting reasons were not set forth in as explicit a manner as should have been done but, as with the alimony issue, the bases for the Court's conclusions can be gleaned from its various writings. In analyzing those writings, we find no abuse of discretion.
The Code empowers the Family Court to "equitably divide ... the marital property between the parties." § 1513(a). The term "`equitably' refers to the power of the Court to divide property according to justice and fairness." Husband C v. Wife C, Del.Supr., 391 A.2d 745, 746 (1978). It is proper to consider the role of one of the parties as homemaker and the intangible contribution to the marriage of the party assuming that role. See § 1513(a)(6). Also pension rights acquired during the marriage are properly included as marital property under the Code. Robert C. S. v. Barbara J. S., Del.Supr., 434 A.2d 383 (1981).
As with an alimony award, the Family Court is vested with broad discretion to divide marital property, and its rulings in this regard will not be disturbed as long as there is evidence to support the Court's findings of fact. Wife (L.R.) v. Husband (N.G.), Del.Supr., 412 A.2d 333 (1980).
Considering the disparate incomes of the parties, the Husband's immediate ability to secure a home for himself, and the limited means of the Wife, we find no error in the award to the Wife of the marital domicile while the Husband is permitted to retain his full pension rights for future enjoyment when he retires and his earning power diminishes. The Court had a professional appraisal of the value of the pension before it, indicating a value approximately equal to that stipulated as being the value of the house. We find no abuse of discretion in the equal division of property equal in value under the circumstances and the substantial evidence present in this case.
Since, as we have said, the bases of the Trial Court's rulings and conclusions are discoverable by an analysis of its various writings, remand is not necessary. However, this Court should not be obliged to "analyze various writings" and to "glean" or "discover" supporting reasons for a decision under appellate review. As this Court has frequently been required to repeat, findings and conclusions and reasons therefor should be fully and clearly set forth by the Trial Court for the benefit of the parties and of this Court.
In particular, this case is another illustration of the lack of uniformity and standards for an explicit statement by the Trial Court of findings, conclusions, and the supporting rationales as to the issues of dependency and other statutory requirements governing this type of case.
This Court recognized the problem presented by such inconsistency and inadequacy
It is evident however, from the instant case and others, that this Court's repeated concern in this regard has too often gone unheeded by certain of the Family Court Judges.
We have concluded that mandatory guidelines and standards are essential for decisions in these types of cases. "[T]he impact of [a Family Court] order on the future life of former spouses, as they go their separate ways after days or decades of marriage, can be enormous. It is, therefore, essential in the public interest that the Judges of the [Family] Court who exercise its statutory power (most often without review) apply the same basic approach in the administration of § 1513 [and § 1512]." Husband R. T. G. v. Wife G. K. G., Del. Supr., 410 A.2d 155, 158 (1979).
Accordingly, we take the occasion to direct the prompt adoption of a Family Court Rule prescribing mandatory guidelines and standards which will insure that findings, conclusions, and supporting reasons therefor, in all future property distribution, alimony, and child support cases, will be uniformly, clearly, and fully set forth by the Trial Judges. Specifically, but without limitation, the Rule shall mandate inclusion of the following:
Any future appeal to this Court lacking such information, which is hereby declared essential to a proper appellate review, will be remanded forthwith for completion of the record.
"§ 1512. Alimony in divorce and annulment actions; waiver or release.
"(a) The Court may grant alimony for a dependent party as follows:
"(b) A party is dependent if the party or someone on behalf of the party shall aver in an affidavit of dependency filed in the action and shall prove by a preponderance of the evidence that such party:
"(c) The alimony order shall be in such amounts and for such time, except as limited in time under subsection (a) of this section, as the Court shall deem just without regard to marital misconduct and after considering all relevant factors justified by the evidence, including:
"§ 1513. Disposition of marital property; imposition of lien; insurance policies.
"(a) In a proceeding for divorce or annulment, the Court shall, upon request of either party, equitably divide, distribute and assign the marital property between the parties without regard to marital misconduct, in such proportions as the Court deems just after considering all relevant factors including:
"(b) For purposes of this chapter only, `marital property' means all property acquired by either party subsequent to the marriage except:
"§ 1502. Purpose; construction.
"This chapter shall be liberally construed and applied to promote its underlying purposes, which are:
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"(6) To award alimony in appropriate cases so as to encourage parties to become self-supporting;"