In the Matter of the Marriage of Betty Jane STEWART, Petitioner-Respondent, and Richard Wade STEWART, Jr., Respondent-Appellant.
and submitted August 17, 2016
County Circuit Court 151402815; R. Curtis Conover, Judge.
W. Kelly argued the cause and fled the briefs for appellant.
Jeffrey E. Potter argued the cause for respondent. With him
on the brief was Gardner, Potter, Budge, Spickard &
DeVore, Presiding Judge, and Garrett, Judge, and James,
Or. 865] Case Summary: Husband appeals a dissolution
judgment, assigning error to the trial court's property
division. Husband argues that wife's evidence was
insufficient to rebut the presumption of equal contribution
under ORS 107.105(1) (f)(C) as to three marital assets and
that it was not just and proper to award wife those sums.
Husband further argues that it was not just and proper to
award wife amounts that she spent before the marriage in
acquiring two properties that later became part of the
The trial court's property division was within its
discretion. The trial court did not err in finding that wife
rebutted the statutory presumption with respect to the three
marital assets because there was evidence to support its
findings. By adopting wife's proposed property division,
the trial court implicitly credited evidence that the couple
had agreed to keep their earnings and personal expenditures
separate and commingle only joint expenses, that the couple
had agreed that wife would be paid back for paying down debt
incurred to support husband's business, and that the
source of the money used for that debt payment was wife's
separate earnings and savings. It was just and proper for the
trial court to award those sums to wife because no other
considerations required a different result. It was also
within the trial court's discretion to award wife her
premarital investments in the two properties because a court
could find that she did not intend to incorporate the
premarital sums into the marital estate. Husband did not
dispute that he agreed that wife would be able to recoup
wife's original investment in one of the properties, and
husband did not significantly contribute to the couple's
equity in the other property.
Or. 866] GARRETT, J.
appeals a dissolution judgment, assigning error to the trial
court's property division. He argues that the trial court
erred in finding that wife rebutted the presumption of equal
contribution with respect to three marital assets credited to
wife and that it abused its discretion in awarding wife those
amounts, along with two other nonmarital assets. We conclude
that the trial court did not err with respect to the property
division, and we reject husband's second assignment of
error concerning the spousal-support award without written
discussion. Accordingly, we affirm the trial court's
requests that we review the property division de
novo, asserting that a final decision on appeal
"would save the parties many months of uncertainty"
and "would prevent the need to return to the trial court
to reopen their litigation." Husband also points to the
fact that, at the time of the hearing, husband had moved to
Oklahoma, and wife was contemplating moving to Florida. We
exercise our discretion to review a matter de novo
only in "exceptional" cases. ORS 19.415(3)(b); ORAP
5.40(8)(c). Although concerns about judicial economy are
pertinent when determining whether to exercise our
discretion, the concerns raised by husband are not unique to
this case, and, therefore, this case is not an exceptional
one for which de novo review is warranted. Cf.
Benson and Benson, 288 Or.App. 619, 622, 406 P.3d 148
(2017) (concluding that de novo review was warranted
because the "concerns about judicial economy and the
need to provide a final resolution to the parties" were
"unique to [the] appeal").
we decline husband's request, "we are bound by the
trial court's express and implicit factual findings if
they are supported by any evidence in the record."
Morton and Morton, 252 Or.App. 525, 527, 287 P.3d
1227 (2012). If the trial court did not make express
findings, we assume "that the trial court found the
facts in a manner consistent with its ultimate
conclusion." Kotler and Winnett, 282 Or.App.
584, 597, 385 P.3d 1200 (2016). We state the facts
consistently with those principles.
Or. 867] Wife resided in Florida when she met husband, and
she moved into his apartment in Oregon in 1999. At that time,
she owned a condominium in Florida. She also owned a
certificate of deposit account (CD) with a Florida bank, and
she later transferred those funds into a CD with Oregon
Community Credit Union (OCCU), less some cash that she kept.
In July 2000, wife purchased a home on Lasater Boulevard in
Eugene (the Lasater residence), which eventually became the
couple's marital residence. She paid the down payment and
closing costs for the home. Wife refinanced the Lasater
residence in 2009, and, at that time, she added husband to
the title and as an obligor for the new mortgage.
before the marriage, wife took out a mortgage to purchase a
property on Linden Avenue in Springfield (the Linden
property), which the couple used as a rental property. Wife
put the title for the Linden property in husband's name.
Wife paid the down payment and ...