Published Family Law Opinion from Ky Court of Appeals Last Week


At trial, husband made several nonmarital claims, and argued for a 70/30 split of marital property in his favor, since he cared for the parties adult disabled child. The Family Court found that Husband had nonmarital claims in the home and in a Morgan Stanley account. It also split the parties’ marital Morgan Stanley savings 70/30, did not award the wife maintenance, and did not consider the parties’ vehicles in division of the marital property. The wife appealed  these findings of fact and conclusions of law, arguing on appeal the Family Court abused its discretion.

The Appellate Court looks to Sexton for guidance in reviewing the Family Court’s award of nonmarital interest. The Appellate Court reverses the decision awarding Husband a nonmarital interest in the marital home, as there was no source of funds evidence, and no tracing of funds from the sale of one house to the purchase of the next house. The Appellate Court held testimony alone is not sufficient to meet the burden of proof to establish a nonmarital claim. The Appellate Court also reverses the Family Court’s award of the Morgan Stanley bank account as nonmarital property, holding there was no tracing from checks given as gifts to the account itself.

Next the Appellate Court looks to the 70/30 split of the marital Morgan Stanley account. The Appellate Court vacates the Family Court’s award because the Family Court ignored the KRS 403.190(1) factors in dividing the marital property. The Appellate Court also notes that there was never any testimony presented that the Morgan Stanley account was used for the benefit of the parties’ disabled adult son.

The Appellate Court orders the Family Court to consider the values of the parties’ vehicles on remand. Because the Appellate Court reversed the family court’s assignment of non-marital interests and division of marital property, they vacate the family court’s decision on maintenance. However, the Appellate Court notes that the family court improperly considered the Wife’s current standard of living in its decision, and orders the court to use the KRS 403.200(2) factors on remand.

Chief Judge Acree writes separately at the end on procedure, stating that to be in compliance with CR 76.13 parties in an appeal must cite to the certified record and not an appendix created by counsel.

Digested by Elizabeth M. Howell

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