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In re Marriage of Justice

Court of Appeals of Oregon

September 24, 2014

In the Matter of the Marriage of STEFANI A. JUSTICE, Petitioner-Appellant, and NEAL A. CRUM, Respondent-Respondent

Submitted: September 6, 2013.

Page 841

151121695. Lane County Circuit Court. Mustafa T. Kasubhai, Judge.

Lorena Reynolds and the Reynolds Law Firm, P.C., filed the briefs for appellant.

Neal A. Crum filed the brief Pro se.

Before Duncan, Presiding Judge, and Wollheim, Judge, and Schuman, Senior Judge.

OPINION

Page 842

[265 Or.App. 637] SCHUMAN, S. J.

Reversed and remanded for reconsideration of transitional support and for correction of the judgment to reflect requirement that husband may not possess the firearms awarded to him in the property division; otherwise affirmed.

In this domestic relations appeal, wife raises five assignments of error relating to the conduct of the trial and elements of the judgment. In particular, she argues that: (1) the trial was fundamentally unfair because the court unreasonably truncated the proceedings; (2) the court did not correctly calculate the amount of child support that husband owed; (3) the court failed to award transitional spousal support and awarded insufficient maintenance support; (4) although the court orally ordered husband not to possess firearms that the court awarded to him in the division of personal property, the court subsequently erred in not including that condition in the written judgment; and (5) the court erred in distributing the parties' personal assets and debts before their value could be established. We reverse and remand with respect to transitional support and dispossession of firearms, and otherwise affirm.

After approximately seven and one-half years of marriage, the parties' dissolution came before the trial court in Lane County in April 2012. The issues to be tried were parenting time, child support, spousal support, and the distribution of assets and debts; husband had already stipulated that wife would have custody of the couple's two children. Although the trial was originally scheduled for a full day, for reasons not disclosed in the record, proceedings did not begin until nearly 2:00 p.m. At that time, the court told the parties that they had to complete presentation of their evidence and arguments by 4:30 p.m. and that the court would rule immediately thereafter. The parties and the court dealt with the parenting time issue--which wife does not appeal--until 3:40 p.m. Approximately 50 minutes of that time occurred off the record in chambers as the parties attempted to negotiate a settlement--an attempt that appeared to be successful until wife changed her mind and rejected it after returning to open court. Beginning at 3:40 p.m. and lasting until around 4:30 p.m., the parties put on evidence relevant to support and property division. After abbreviated closing arguments, the court then ruled. As relevant to this appeal, the court declined to award transitional support and ordered husband to pay maintenance support of $300 per month for 18 months and child support of $1,056 [265 Or.App. 638] per month. The court also divided the parties' assets and debts. Regarding husband's retirement account, the court ordered that the parties evenly distribute its then-current payments of $352.62 per month and obtain a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO).

After trial, but before entry of judgment, wife filed a motion for a new trial, to reopen her case in chief, and for reconsideration. She argued that, due to the court's insistence on a truncated trial, she was unable to present as complete a case as she wanted, including testimony from two witnesses, one of whom would have testified as to wife's plans to return to school and one of whom could have provided relevant information regarding some trust accounts in husband's name. The court denied wife's motion. Judgment reflecting the terms of the court's oral ruling was subsequently entered, and this appeal ensued.

We begin with wife's contention that the court abused its discretion by enforcing a 4:30 p.m. deadline for the presentation of testimony and argument. Her assignment of error regarding this contention does not cite a ruling but, because she cites ORCP 64 B(1), we presume ...


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