In the Matter of the Marriage of Sherie Lynn VAN WINKEL, aka Sherie L. Van Winkel Petitioner-Appellant, and Andrew Louie VAN WINKEL, aka Andrew L. Van Winkel, Respondent-Respondent.
and submitted February 7, 2017
County Circuit Court 151500631; Clara L. Rigmaiden, Judge.
Michael Vergamini argued the cause and fled the briefs for
D. Smith argued the cause and fled the brief for respondent.
DeHoog, Presiding Judge, and Egan, Chief Judge, and Aoyagi,
Or. 806] Case Summary: Wife appeals from a general judgment
dissolving the parties' marriage. She challenges the
trial court's division of the marital property,
contending that the court abused its discretion by awarding
husband one-half of the equity in the home that she bought
before the marriage. Held: The trial court applied
the correct methodology and the resulting award fell within
the range of legally permissible outcomes. Therefore, the
trial court did not abuse its discretion.
DEHOOG, P. J.
appeals from a general judgment dissolving the parties'
marriage. She challenges the trial court's division of
the marital property, contending that the court erred in
awarding husband one-half of the equity in the house that she
bought before the marriage. We conclude that the trial court
applied the correct methodology and that the resulting award
fell within the range of legally permissible outcomes. We
salient facts are largely undisputed. In June 2008, before
the parties married, wife moved into a house that husband
owned in California. For the two years that they lived there,
the parties kept separate bank accounts and split the bills
evenly. After losing his job in November 2008, husband
allowed the California house to go into foreclosure and filed
2010, the parties, who still were not married, moved to
Eugene, where wife had purchased a replacement home. They had
travelled to Oregon the year before to find a house to buy,
but they were initially unsuccessful. Wife's father
subsequently found the Eugene house, which, although a
"fixer-upper, " appeared to be a good fit for the
parties and their children. With her father's financial
assistance, wife purchased the home in March 2010. Wife had
asked her father to gift her a portion of her anticipated
inheritance. Wife's father agreed to gift her the $43,
600 needed to close on the home, and wife took out a mortgage
to pay the remaining balance of $174, 400. Wife purchased the
property solely in her name because, as the parties had
discussed, husband's recent bankruptcy made him a poor
candidate for a loan.
trial, the parties testified about their relative
contributions to renovations that they made to the house.
Husband moved to the new home several weeks in advance of
wife and the children to complete work on an unusable
bathroom, and he testified to having made other extensive
renovations in the years that followed. He acknowledged, [289
Or. 808] however, that his own father, as well as wife, her
father, and her stepfather, all helped with various projects;
wife also testified that much of the work was done by
professionals. Husband further testified that he did many of
the renovations after the parties were married, including
work on the family room, the kitchen, and the master bedroom
and bath. He estimated that about half of the renovations
were completed after the parties married.
parties married in June 2012. At that time, wife, who had
acquired the house in her previous name, signed the property
over to herself in her new, married name. The parties
continued to split bills evenly after they married. Both
before and after the parties married, husband made monthly
transfers of at least $1, 215 into wife's account.
According to husband, those payments were intended to cover
the mortgage payments of $1, 204.83. Wife disputed
husband's contention that the payments were specifically
designated for the mortgage, and testified that they simply
went to husband's half of the bills. Wife acknowledged,
however, that those bills included the mortgage payment.
After the parties married, husband began depositing his
entire paycheck-which was more than $1, 215-directly into
hearing the evidence and arguments, the trial court found
that the Eugene home was a premarital asset of wife and,
therefore, the presumption of equal contribution did not
apply. The court then considered whether there had been
sufficient commingling of energy, time, and financial or
other resources, such that a "just and equitable"
distribution would require awarding husband a ...