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Tag Archives: Equitable Distribution

Domestic Relations – Equitable Distribution – Classification – Separate Property – Mortgage Payments – Unequal Division – Attorney’s Fees (access required)

Fitzwater v. Fitzwater The husband came into the parties’ marriage with three properties. One of those properties (the Antioch property) remained his separate property despite the use of marital funds to pay down its mortgage. The proceeds from the mortgage on the Antioch property were used to pay for improvements to a marital property.

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Domestic Relations – Divorce – Habitual Drunkenness – Civil Practice – Continuance – Equitable Distribution – Classification (access required)

Snipes v. Snipes Where (1) the husband does not dispute he was using narcotic drugs prescribed by his physician, (2) the wife offered uncontradicted testimony that the husband was frequently intoxicated because of the medication, (3) the wife observed that the husband “took too much” of the medication for a period much longer than needed to recuperate from his surgeries and would sometimes “grab a handful of pills” when he got aggravated or mad, and (4) the wife testified that the parties had a good marriage in prior years and she separated from the husband because he “had become addicted to prescription medicine,” we affirm the family court’s grant of a divorce to the wife on the ground of habitual drunkenness.

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Domestic Relations – Equitable Distribution – Valuation Date – Active/Passive Appreciation – Parent & Child – Support (access required)

Burch v. Burch Between the parties’ separation and their divorce, the husband’s real estate development increased in value from zero to $1,591,500, thanks to the efforts of the husband’s partner. Since the appreciation was passive on the husband’s part, it should have been classified as marital property and divided equally between the parties.

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Domestic Relations – Equitable Distribution – Real Property – Pre-Marital Purchase – Mortgages – Economic Misconduct Finding (access required)

Nestberg v. Nestberg Even though the defendant-husband bought 14 acres of land a month before the parties’ wedding, since the parties intended to and did live on the property during their marriage, and since the plaintiff-wife’s salary paid the mortgages on the property - especially during the five years after the husband lost his job - the property was transmuted into marital property.

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Domestic Relations – Equitable Distribution – Economic Misconduct – Unpaid Taxes & Overspending – Marital Home – Down Payment (access required)

Barrow v. Barrow Even though the defendant-husband was at fault for failing to pay income taxes, since the parties enjoyed their income equally, the plaintiff-wife should be required to pay taxes on half the parties’ income. The wife has paid taxes on her own income; she must also pay taxes on part of the husband’s income. We modify the equitable distribution order so as to impose liability on the wife for part of the husband’s original income tax liability. We also modify the family court’s treatment of money the wife’s parents advanced for a down payment on the marital residence. Otherwise, we affirm.

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Domestic Relations – Equitable Distribution – Motor Coach – Financing – Attorney’s Fees (access required)

Lucas v. Lucas The plaintiff-wife said she had no involvement in the financing of the parties’ motor coach or in the refinancing of her mother-in-law’s home to pay for the motor coach; on the other hand, the defendant-husband testified that he, along with his mother and sister, made the monthly payments on his mother’s equity line. The family court erred in finding that the wife made a greater contribution to the acquisition, appreciation, and preservation of the marital estate, and it erroneously relied on this finding in distributing the motor coach to the wife. We reverse the distribution of the motor coach to the wife, but we affirm the family court’s award of attorney’s fees to the wife.

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Domestic Relations – Equitable Distribution – Separate Property – Pasture Land – Personal Items (access required)

Brown v. Brown Pasture land purchased by the plaintiff-husband before the parties’ 24-year marriage remains his separate property since he manifested no intent to share the property with the defendant-wife. The wife made no financial contributions to the property, and the husband paid for all taxes and insurance on the property from his separate account.

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Domestic Relations – Equitable Distribution – Valuation – Pension Plan – Contributions Plus Interest (access required)

Asmussen v. Asmussen Even though the plaintiff-wife’s expert valued the defendant-husband’s retirement plan at $76,901, the husband testified that his retirement plan was valued at $31,000 immediately before the hearing, and the expert admitted that, as of the hearing, the only amount the husband could have gotten from his plan was the cash surrender value, which would probably have been a little less than $31,889. We find no error in the trial court’s valuation of the retirement plan at $31,000, using the present cash value method. We affirm the family court’s equitable distribution order.

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Domestic Relations – Retroactive Alimony – Motion for Reconsideration – Equitable Distribution – Valuation (access required)

Wannamaker v. Wannamaker Even though, in her motion for reconsideration, the defendant-wife attempted to justify her entitlement to a credit for mortgage payments by arguing there was no award of temporary alimony, the wife never asked the family court to reconsider its decision not to award her retroactive alimony in its final divorce decree. Since the divorce judgment was already more than 10 days old, the family court lacked the authority to alter or amend the judgment on its own initiative. The family court abused its discretion in awarding the wife retroactive alimony in its amended divorce decree. The family court’s amended divorce decree is affirmed in part and reversed in part.

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