Division of Marital Property, Ford v. Perkins, Digest, Ky Supreme Court

Ford v. Perkins, 2011-SC-000330-DG

Published:   Affirming in Part, Vacating in Part, and Remanding
  

County:  Jefferson

 SC granted Ex-Husband’s motion for
discretionary review regarding the appropriate distribution of his IRA account,
which Ex-Husband no longer disputed was marital property.   

 FACTS:

Husband and his employer began
contributions to a 401(k) plan in 1992. 
Husband and Wife married in December 1998.  Wife spent most of marriage as a
homemaker.  Husband’s and his employers’
contributions to the plan continued until January 2001 when Husband resigned;
he subsequently rolled the 401(K) over to an IRA.  Husband and Wife separated in November 2007
and divorced in December 2008.  All
matters of support and property division were agreed upon except for the
division of Husband’s IRA.  At the
hearing on this issue, Husband only submitted records of contributions made
after the marriage, from August 2000 through January 2001, as both his and his
former employers’ other records had been destroyed in a flood.  He submitted no records regarding the value
of the account on the date of marriage, but he did submit the values when the
401(k) was rolled over to an IRA, in May 2001. 
Husband argued to the trial court that the contributions from records
submitted to the trial court should be extrapolated to establish the amount
that was contributed during the marriage and that the remainder should be his
nonmarital property.  FC found that the
entire account was marital as Husband failed to meet the burden of proof as the
proponent of a nonmarital property interest. 
FC then found that the account should be divided equally between the
parties as of the date of decree. 
Husband appealed this ruling to CA, which affirmed FC’s finding that the
account was marital property; however, CA determined that because Wife
presented no proof that she made any direct or indirect contribution to the
account, an equal division of the account was not supported by the record; CA
remanded to FC with instructions to award Husband 100% of IRA. 

Ex-Wife moved SC for discretionary
review, asking 1.  Whether FC’s finding
that parties were married when an asset was acquired is sufficient to support
equal division of the asset under Gaskill
v. Robbins
; and 2.  Whether, on
appeal, CA may make a different award of the division of marital property
without applying KRS 403.190 factors. 

 

ANALYSIS:

  1. Whether
    FC’s finding that parties were married when an asset was acquired is
    sufficient to support equal division of the asset under Gaskill v. Robbins:

 SC found that this premise boils down
to requiring FC’s presumption that both parties to a marriage contribute to
assets acquired during the marriage.  SC
disagreed.  KRS 403.190 requires FC to
consider the contribution of each spouse to acquisition of the asset (including
homemaker duties); value of the property set aside to each spouse; duration of
the marriage; and economic circumstances of each spouse when the division is to
become effective.  SC noted that Gaskill emphasized many intangible
contributions to acquisition of an asset that FC must consider in its property
division determination, but the language does not purport to create a
presumption. 

        2.    Whether,
on appeal, CA may make a different award of the division of marital
property without applying KRS 403.190 factors:

    SC agreed with Ex-Wife, noting that FC
    committed same error as FC when it failed to consider all factors of KRS
    403.190 when it awarded 100% of IRA to Husband. 
    CA based its decision on evidence of contribution, but did not consider
    the other three factors.  FC’s findings
    of fact were insufficient, and CA should have remanded for further
    proceedings. 

    Reversed and Remanded for to FC for
    additional fact-finding regarding KRS 403.190 factors.

    Digested by Michelle Eisenmenger
    Mapes
    , Diana L. Skaggs + Associates