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In re Marriage of Siragusa

Court of Appeals of Oregon

May 9, 2018

In the Matter of the Marriage of Richard SIRAGUSA, Petitioner-Respondent, and Kimberly SIRAGUSA, Respondent-Appellant.

          Argued and submitted November 2, 2016

          Klamath County Circuit Court 0805101CV; Dan Bunch, Judge.

          Samuel A. Ramirez argued the cause and fled the brief for appellant.

          David G. Brown argued the cause for respondent. With him on the brief was Merrill O'Sullivan, LLP.

          Before DeVore, Presiding Judge, and Garrett, Judge, and Powers, Judge. [*]

         Case Summary: Wife appeals from the trial court's supplemental judgment in this domestic relations case. The stipulated judgment of dissolution of marriage included a provision requiring husband to pay wife $50, 000 upon sale of the marital residence. The trial court concluded that the provision was conditioned upon sale in the ordinary course and, therefore, husband's loss of the property in foreclosure relieved him of any obligation to pay wife. The trial court entered a supplemental judgment that deemed that provision to have been satisfied and that sustained husband's objection to wife's attempt to garnish other funds. Wife appeals, arguing, among other things, that the trial court erred in construing the $50, 000 provision in the dissolution judgment.

         Held: The trial court erred in deeming the obligation of the dissolution judgment to be satisfied and sustaining husband's objections to the writ of garnishment. The provision for husband's payment served as an equalizing payment, which was triggered by a conveyance of any sort.

          [291 Or.App. 645] DeVORE, P. J.

         This case concerns the interpretation of a provision in a stipulated judgment of dissolution of marriage. The trial court agreed with husband that a provision in the dissolution judgment that he pay wife $50, 000 was conditioned upon his sale of the marital residence in the ordinary course and that his loss of the property in foreclosure relieved him of any obligation to pay wife. The trial court entered a supplemental judgment that deemed that provision of the judgment to have been satisfied and that sustained husband's objection to wife's attempt to garnish other funds. Wife appeals, arguing, among other things, that the trial court erred in construing the $50, 000 provision in the dissolution judgment. On that point, we agree with wife. Therefore, we reverse and remand.

         The relevant facts, on which the decision turned, are undisputed. Husband and wife were married 11 years. They did not have children. The parties separated in 2008, and husband initiated dissolution proceedings that same year. Wife was unrepresented. The parties agreed on the terms of a stipulated judgment that was drafted by husband's counsel. Among the preliminary provisions, the judgment recites, "Husband and Wife acknowledge that the disposition of their property, whether or not equal, is just and proper considering all circumstances."

         The operative provisions of the judgment were divided into titled sections. The section titled "Spousal Support" provided wife support of $1, 000 per month for 32 months. The section titled "Personal Property Division" distributed three businesses to husband and distributed other accounts and personal property to one or the other spouse. A section titled "Real Property" distributed to wife one property with a residence, while requiring husband to pay its mortgage. The judgment distributed to husband four properties, including the "Elk Haven" property, which had been the marital residence.

         Following those sections, the judgment included, among others, sections titled "Property Settlement, " "Debt Allocation, " and "Taxes."

          [291 Or.App. 646] The parties' dispute centers on one of those separate sections, "Property Settlement, " which follows the distribution of personal and real property. In its entirety, it provides:

"Husband shall pay to Wife $50, 000 upon the sale of 141860 Elk Haven Way, Crescent Lake, Oregon. Wife shall execute a satisfaction recognizing ...

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