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Founder of Quirk Auto Group ordered to pay 43 years of spousal support

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court upheld a decision by a lesser court that John E. Quirk Sr. must pay his former wife nearly $400,000.
Credit: NCM

PORTLAND, Maine — The founder of a Bangor-based chain of car dealerships has been ordered by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court to pay his former wife more than 40 years worth of spousal support.

John "Jack" E. Quirk Sr., 88, founder of what is now Quirk Auto Group, was divorced from his former wife, Frances Quirk in 1973 after 25 years of marriage. At that time, he was court-ordered to pay her $45 weekly in spousal support, according to a decision Thursday by the law court.

In October 2018, Frances Quirk filed a motion to enforce the judgment, alleging he had made no payments since at least January 1977 and owed her $97,875 plus interest.

John Quirk opposed the motion, and in March 2019 twice unsuccessfully attempted to avoid being deposed, citing a recent diagnosis of dementia.

At a September 2019 hearing, a Bangor Superior Court judge heard from witnesses including John Quirk and Frances Quirk, some of their children, John Quirk's current wife, and his neuropsychologist. 

Although John Quirk argued he should not have to pay the support because more than 20 years had passed and his ex-wife never "force[d] the issue," Frances Quirk said she feared her former husband would physically assault her as he did during their marriage -- an allegation two of the couple's sons testified in support of.

The court found John Quirk had not made payments since at least January 1977, despite an annual income of more than $300,000 (Frances Quirk's annual income was $21,000, according to the ruling), and that his "pretrial tactics" added to the cost of Frances Quirk's legal fees.

Frances Quirk was awarded $367,590 in spousal support and interest, as well as nearly $20,000 in attorney fees.

On Thursday, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court upheld the judgment of the lesser court.

Justices noted that John Quirk never claimed to the court that he was incompetent, and offered no proof of ever paying support.