In the Matter of the Domestic Partnership of Ronald Dean JOLING, Jr., Petitioner-Appellant, and Jackie Diane JOLING, Respondent-Respondent.
and submitted November 16, 2018
Josephine County Circuit Court 15DR14381; Pat Wolke, Judge.
W. Kelly argued the cause and fled the briefs for appellant.
Margaret H. Leek Leiberan argued the cause for respondent.
Also on the brief was Jensen & Leiberan.
Armstrong, Presiding Judge, and Tookey, Judge, and Shorr,
appeals from a judgment that dissolved petitioner's
domestic relationship with respondent. The trial court ruled
in favor of respondent on her breach of contract
counterclaim, finding that, when petitioner stopped providing
respondent with financial support, he breached a contract
that was formed by the parties' wedding vows and their
conduct over the course of the relationship. As damages for
that breach, the trial court awarded the parties' primary
asset, their previously shared home, almost entirely to
respondent. Petitioner assigns error to the trial court's
ultimate division of the parties' real property, arguing
among other things, that the division of property should have
been governed by the principles set forth in Beal and
Beal, 282 Or. 115, 577 P.2d 507 (1978). Respondent
concedes that Beal controls the division of property
and argues that, applying those principles, the trial
court's ultimate division of assets was proper.
Held: The division of the parties' assets in
this dissolution of a non-marital domestic relationship
should have been determined based on the express or implied
intent of the parties, as set forth in Beal. Because
the evidence does not support a reasonable inference that the
parties intended that respondent would [297 Or.App. 569]
receive nearly the entirety of the home in a property
division, the trial court abused its discretion by awarding
the parties' home to respondent.
of general judgment relating to real property division
reversed and remanded; otherwise affrmed.
Or.App. 570] SHORR, J.
appeals from a judgment that dissolved petitioner's
domestic relationship with respondent. Among other things,
the judgment divided the parties' property and awarded
their primary asset, their previously shared home, entirely
to respondent (less some set offs that are not in dispute
before us). Because the evidence does not support a
reasonable inference that the parties intended that
respondent would receive the entirety of the home in a
property division, we conclude that the trial court abused
its discretion and reverse and remand for the trial court to
reconsider the division of the parties' real property.
first address our standard of review. Because an action to
dissolve a domestic partnership is an equitable proceeding,
Branam and Beaver, 225 Or.App. 630, 634, 202 P.3d
886 (2009), we have discretion to review the facts and record
de novo. ORS 19.415(3)(b). However, petitioner has
not sought de novo review, and this is not the type
of exceptional case where we would exercise our discretion to
engage in such a review. Staveland and Fisher, 295
Or.App. 210, 212, 433 P.3d 749 (2018), rev allowed,
364 Or. 723 (2019); see also ORAP 5.40(8)(c)
(stating that we will exercise our discretion to review
de novo "only in exceptional cases").
"Consequently, we are bound by the trial court's
express and implicit factual findings if they are supported
by any evidence in the record." Staveland, 295
Or.App. at 212 (citations and internal quotation marks
omitted). We review a trial court's division of property
in the dissolution of a nonmarital domestic relationship for
an abuse of discretion. Id. at 218.
and respondent participated in a religious wedding ceremony
in California in 1993. The parties, however, decided not to
obtain a California wedding license. Petitioner's father,
a self-ordained minister who performed the marriage ceremony,
told respondent that a marriage license was unnecessary
because "marriage is between God and the couple"
and incorrectly informed her that she and petitioner would be
legally married in any event because Oregon had common-law
the ceremony, the couple exchanged vows and signed a
covenant. Petitioner vowed that he would "love, [297
Or.App. 571] honor, and care for" respondent. In return,
respondent vowed that she would "love, honor, and
obey" petitioner. The parties also exchanged traditional
vows that they would "take" each other as
"wedded husband" and "wedded wife,"
"to have and hold from this day forward. For better, for
worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health; to
love and to cherish 'til death do us part." The
written marriage covenant stated that "Groom
[petitioner], and Bride [respondent] before God and witnesses
were united in Holy Matrimony." The covenant was signed
by petitioner, respondent, the minister, and 10 witnesses.
years following that ceremony, petitioner and respondent
presented themselves to their community as a married couple.
They cohabitated, had three children (only one of whom was
still a minor at the time of dissolution), and listed their
tax status as married when preparing their tax forms, which
were sometimes filed jointly and sometimes separately.
duration of their partnership, the parties divided duties of
work and family life. Petitioner worked outside the home as a
general contractor. Respondent maintained the parties'
home, raised the children, and, for a time, homeschooled
them. Respondent testified that her work at home included
cooking, cleaning, laundry, shopping, gardening, and helping
to build the family home. She did "everything" when
it came to household chores. In doing so, she sacrificed
opportunities for further education or to obtain other job
skills. Respondent also held various jobs outside the home to
supplement the family income, including working at an auto
parts store, as a secretary and data entry clerk, and as a
teacher's assistant. The parties maintained that general
arrangement for 21 years.
regard to the parties' family home, petitioner had saved
approximately $50, 000 prior to the marriage ceremony, and,
of that amount, he used $24, 000 as a down payment for the
property on which they would later build the home. Petitioner
also invested approximately $25, 000 for supplies to build a
barn on the property. Petitioner built the family home on the
property, and respondent worked alongside petitioner in that
effort. The couple also titled the deed [297 Or.App. 572] to
their home ...