Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

In re Marriage of Benson

Court of Appeals of Oregon

November 1, 2017

In the Matter of the Marriage of Shondalae BENSON, Petitioner-Respondent, and Phillip BENSON, Respondent-Appellant.

          Argued and submitted August 18, 2016

         Lane County Circuit Court 151309273; Mustafa T. Kasubhai, Judge.

         George W. Kelly argued the cause and fled the brief for appellant.

          Before Ortega, Presiding Judge, and Egan, Judge, and Lagesen, Judge.

         Case Summary: Husband again appeals the decision of the trial court distributing the value of the home shared by the parties during their marriage, following a remand from the Court of Appeals in Benson and Benson, 263 Or.App. 554, 328 P.3d 819 (2014) (Benson I). Held: The trial court erred by not differentiating between the portion of the home's value that was attributable to husband's premarital assets and that which was attributable to appreciation or improvements, as the Court of Appeals had directed in Benson I. The Court of Appeals reviewed the case de novo, determining it qualified as an "exceptional" case under ORAP 5.40(8)(c), due to concerns of judicial economy and the need to provide a final resolution to the parties uniquely present in the case.

         Reversed and remanded.

         [288 Or. 620] LAGESEN, J.

         This dissolution case is before us for a second time following our remand in Benson and Benson, 263 Or.App. 554, 328 P.3d 819 (2014). As it was in the first appeal, the issue is the proper distribution of the value of the house in which the parties lived during their four-year marriage. Husband purchased the house with his own separate funds and held title in his name alone. The parties agreed that the value of the house at the time of dissolution was $220, 000. Initially, the trial court awarded wife a quarter of that value in the form of an equalizing judgment for $55, 000. Id. at 556. Husband appealed, contending that the trial court, in awarding that amount, erroneously "did not evaluate the proper disposition of the house under the framework that applies where, as here, a party seeks to rebut the statutory presumption that both parties contributed equally to the acquisition of an asset acquired during the course of a marriage." Id. We agreed, and remanded for the trial court to apply the correct legal framework. We explained the trial court's task on remand as follows:

"Assessing whether husband has rebutted the presumption of equal contribution will require the trial court to differentiate between that portion of the home's value at the time of dissolution that is traceable to husband's premarital assets, and that portion that is attributable to appreciation or improvements to the property made after the acquisition of the property. That will require the court to make findings regarding what husband paid for the disputed property and the extent to which the value of the property increased during the parties' marriage as a result of appreciation or improvements that are properly attributable to either party."

Id. at 558-59 (internal citations omitted).

         On remand, the trial court held a hearing at which the parties developed additional evidence regarding their respective contributions to the house. Husband maintained that the house should be treated as a separate asset and the entirety of its value awarded to him. In support of his position, husband pointed to the facts that the house had been purchased using funds from the sale of a home that husband owned separately before the marriage without [288 Or. 621] contribution from wife; that the property was titled in husband's name only and husband paid all of the property taxes and the homeowner's insurance on it from his own funds; that the marriage was short (four years) and the parties had no children together; and that the parties largely kept their finances separate. Wife's position was that the trial court's initial award of a quarter of the value of the house was the proper one. Wife did not dispute that husband had paid for the house, property taxes, and insurance, or that the parties largely maintained separate finances. However, she presented evidence of work that she had done on the house and the yard to improve it, as well as evidence of things she had done to make the lives of husband and his son better during the course of the marriage. Based on that evidence, wife contended that the trial court's initial award to her of a quarter of the house's value remained the just and proper allocation.

         The trial court, after taking the matter under advisement, determined that wife should be awarded half the value of the house or $110, 000, twice the court's initial award. In reaching that conclusion, the court determined that husband had rebutted the presumption of equal contribution. However, the court concluded that wife's "sweat equity" warranted an award of half of the value of the house, although, as the court acknowledged, "not all of [wife's] efforts were met with apparent success, " in terms of adding value to the house. The court then entered a supplemental judgment vacating the prior $55, 000 equalizing judgment and entering a $110, 000 equalizing judgment.

         In reaching its conclusion, the court did not, as we had directed, differentiate between the portion of the home's value that was attributable to husband's premarital assets, and that which was attributable to appreciation or improvements. The court, thus, did not assess how to allocate those separate portions of the house's value as required under Timm and Timm, 200 Or.App. 621, 629, 117 P.3d 301 (2005). Benson, 263 Or.App. at 559.

         Husband has appealed again. He argues that the trial court did not conduct the inquiry on remand that we directed and urges us to decide the case de novo to avert [288 Or. 622] another remand. He further argues that the trial court's decision should be set aside for a number of reasons, including that neither party had ever suggested that half the value of the house would be a just and proper ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.