Archive | Dissolution (property division)

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Marriage of Broesder

Marriage of Broesder, 2017 MT 223 (Sept. 12, 2017) (Rice, J.) (5-0, rev’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred by failing to consider the tax consequences of the distribution of the marital estate, resulting in an inequitable distribution.

Short Answer: Yes.

Reversed and remanded

Facts: Donald and Sandra married in 1976, and lived and worked on Donald’s family ranch for about 35 years. They own the ranch in a close corporation with their sons, Seth and Shane, and their daughter-in-law, Sarah. The corporation has restrictions on the sale of stock.…

In re the Marriage of Wagenman

In re the Marriage of Wagenman, 2016 MT 176 (July 19, 2016) (Wheat, J.) (5-0, rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in denying Tammy’s Rule 60(b) motion to amend the final decree of dissolution, and (2) whether the district court erred in awarding attorney’s fees to Matt.

Short Answer: (1) Yes, and (2) yes.

Reversed and remanded 

Facts: Matt and Tammy Wagenman married in 1996, and jointly petitioned for dissolution in 2012, each appearing pro se. They have no children, and used the self-help dissolution forms approved by the Court. In the “real property” section of the petition, they indicated they own their marital home in Shepherd. In another section of the petition, they stated the real property should be distributed as described in Exhibit A, which was attached to the petition.…

Marriage of Bliss

Marriage of Bliss, 2016 MT 51 (March 8, 2016) (Shea, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in finding the prenuptial agreement was valid and enforceable; and (2) whether the district court properly determined that more than 150 firearms belonged to Bliss.

Short Answer: (1) No, and (2) yes.

Affirmed

Facts: Creed Evans and Dava Bliss married in 1996, and divorced in 2015. One day before their marriage, they executed a notarized prenuptial agreement providing that all property held individually by a party before and during the marriage remains that party’s property upon dissolution. Before signing the agreement, Evans met with an attorney to obtain independent legal advice.

During the dissolution proceedings, Bliss moved for a declaratory judgment that the agreement governed the distribution of marital property and debt.…

Rose v. Rose

Rose v. Rose, 2016 MT 7 (Jan. 12, 2016) (Baker, J.) (7-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred in allocating delinquent tax liability equally between the parties after taxing authorities determined one party was an “innocent spouse.”

Short Answer: No.

Affirmed

Facts: Sherri and Michael married in 1994 and have three children. They lived in Billings for most of their marriage, separating in late 2012. Sherri petitioned for dissolution in March 2013, and the district court held a bench trial in April 2014.…

In re the Marriage of Richards & Trusler

In re the Marriage of Richards & Trusler, 2015 MT 314 (Nov. 5, 2015) (Cotter, J.; Rice, J., concurring) (5-0, rev’d)

Issue: Whether the district court abused its discretion in apportioning the marital estate.

Short Answer: Yes.

Reversed and remanded for a new trial

Facts: Vanessa Richards and Ernest Trusler began their relationship in 1991, had three children between 1992-2000, and formally married in May 2008. They held themselves out as married beginning in 1992, when their oldest child, TR, was born. TR was severely disabled and required full-time care until his death in August 2014. Richards and Trusler agreed that Richards would care for TR.

Richards and Trusler lived on the Trusler Ranch until 2003. The ranch is owned by the family corporation, which was valued at $7.2 million at the time of the dissolution.…

Marriage of Kostelnik

Marriage of Kostelnik, 2015 MT 283 (Sept. 29, 2015) (Baker, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the standing master equitably distributed the marital estate, and properly awarded the remaining personal injury settlement proceeds to Jackie.

Short Answer: Yes.

Affirmed

Facts: Jackie and Daniel married in 1983, and have one adult child. Daniel lives in Missoula and has been unable to find work in his chosen field. Jackie was born with cerebral palsy, has a learning disability, and suffers from an incurable neurological condition caused by a tainted dietary supplement she took in the late 1980s. Jackie and Daniel sued the supplement manufacturer in 1992, and agreed to a structured settlement of $500,000 in 1995. Part of the settlement was awarded to Jackie solely, and part was disbursed as an annuity, with payouts extending until 2040.…

Marriage of Clark

Marriage of Clark, 2015 MT 263 (Sept. 8, 2015) (Baker, J.) (5-0, aff’d & rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court abused its discretion in ordering Gordon to make an equalization payment within 120 days or be forced to sell or transfer the ranch; (2) whether the district court abused its discretion in failing to consider tax liabilities associated with selling the ranch; and (3) whether the district court erred in its valuation of the ranch.

Short Answer: (1) No; (2) yes; and (3) no.

Affirmed (1 & 3) and reversed (2) and remanded

Facts: Gordon and Nancy married in 1996 and separated in 2012. No children were born to the marriage. Nancy entered the marriage with property on the Stillwater River (the river house) and Gordon entered the marriage with ranch property.…

Smith v. Smith

Smith v. Smith, 2015 MT 256 (Sept. 1, 2015) (Rice. J.) (5-0, aff’d & rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in ordering the division of Glenn’s social security benefits; (2) Whether the district court abused its discretion in ordering maintenance to Debora; (3) whether the district court abused its discretion in imposing conditions on the termination of maintenance; (4) whether the district court’s equalization payment was an abuse of discretion; and (5) whether the district court’s award to Debora of the SeaDoo was an abuse of discretion.

Short Answer: (1) Yes; (2) yes, as it made no findings to support her estimated expenses; (3) no; (4) no; and (5) no.

Affirmed and reversed and remanded for further proceedings

Facts: Glenn and Debora live in Polson.…

Marriage of Axelberg

Marriage of Axelberg, 2015 MT 110 (March 11, 2015) (Wheat, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court should have considered the net worth of the marital estate before dividing the property; (2) whether the district court erred in awarding Tracy certain pre-marital and post-separation property; (3) whether the district court abused its discretion by refusing to award maintenance to Delynn; (4) whether the district court erred by retroactively modifying Tracy’s obligations under the interim support agreement; and (5) whether the child support order was clearly erroneous or an abuse of discretion.

Short Answer: (1) No; (2) no; (3) no; (4) no; and (5) no.

Affirmed

Facts: Delynn and Tracy married in 1998 and separated in 2010. Delyn filed for divorce in June 2011.…

Marriage of Edwards

Marriage of Edwards, 2015 MT 9 (Jan. 13, 2015) (Cotter, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in ordering Jim’s corporation to undergo a Divisive Reorganization to effect an equitable distribution of marital assets, and (2) whether the district court abused its discretion in valuing and distributing the marital estate.

Short Answer: (1) No, and (2) no.

Affirmed

Facts: Jim and Melinda Edwards divorced after 23 years of marriage. The majority of marital assets were held in Jim’s corporation, Bi Lo Foods, Inc. Based on considerable expert testimony about distributing corporate assets in a marital dissolution, the district court ordered Jim to proceed with a Divisive Reorganization (D Reorg) under IRS Rules to accomplish the division of assets ordered by the court and avoid immediate tax consequences to Bi-Lo or the parties.…