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Mooar v. Greenleaf

Supreme Court of Maine

February 6, 2018

STACY B. (GREENLEAF) MOOAR
v.
TERRY L. GREENLEAF

          Submitted On Briefs: November 29, 2017

          Patrick R. Nickerson, Esq., Paradie, Sherman, Walker & Worden, Lewiston, for appellant Terry L. Greenleaf

          Caroline Y. Jova, Esq., Pine Tree Legal Assistance, Portland, for appellee Stacy B. (Greenleaf) Mooar.

          Panel: SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, JABAR, HJELM, and HUMPHREY, JJ.

          HUMPHREY, J.

         [¶1] Terry L. Greenleaf appeals from a judgment of divorce from Stacy B. (Greenleaf) Mooar entered by the District Court (Farmington, Carlson, J.). In this appeal, Greenleaf contends that the court erred by failing to classify the increase in value to the property in Jay, Maine as marital or nonmarital and that it abused its discretion in its award of spousal support. We vacate the judgment in part and remand for further proceedings.

         I. BACKGROUND

         [¶2] On January 6, 2016, Mooar filed a complaint for divorce from Greenleaf after over nineteen years of marriage. The parties have five minor children, including three adopted children, and one adult child who lives with Greenleaf. The adult son neither attends school nor works. Greenleaf has worked for the Town of Jay for the past thirty years, earning $51, 104.80 annually. Mooar is a stay-at-home parent and receives $26, 097.50 in annual adoption subsidies.

         [¶3] During the marriage, the parties lived in Jay on land conveyed to Greenleaf by his parents prior to the parties' marriage. Greenleaf purchased a mobile home before the marriage for $18, 500, providing a down payment of $10, 000 and financing $8, 500. At the time of the divorce, there was a mortgage on the property with a balance owed of $28, 594.57.[1] The value of the real estate, including the home, was $44, 930.

         [¶4] The court held a contested hearing on March 17, 2017.[2] In its divorce judgment, the court awarded the real estate in Jay and the debt associated with it to Greenleaf and ordered Greenleaf to pay Mooar (1) child support arrearages of $12, 408; (2) ongoing child support pursuant to the child support guidelines; and (3) spousal support of $350 per week for 9.75 years. The court also ordered Greenleafs retirement account, worth $132, 799.64 and subject to a loan of $19, 050.68, to be liquidated to pay off the outstanding loan as well as the child support arrearage, and ordered that the remainder be divided between the parties, with sixty percent awarded to Mooar and forty percent to Greenleaf. Mooar was allocated any and all debts solely in her name and Greenleaf was allocated any and all debts solely in his name as well as any and all joint marital debts.

         [¶5] Greenleaf filed a timely motion to amend the court's findings, make additional findings, and amend the divorce judgment pursuant to M.R. Civ. P. 52(b) and 59(e), or, in the alternative, for a new trial pursuant to M.R. Civ. P. 59(b). The court granted the motion in part, amending its judgment to reduce Greenleafs weekly child support obligation to account for the cost of the children's health insurance, but summarily denied the other relief sought. Greenleaf timely appealed. See 19-A M.R.S. § 104 (2017); M.R. App. P. 2(b)(3) (Tower 2016).[3]

         II. DISCUSSION

         [¶6] Before addressing Greenleafs arguments regarding the court's failure to classify the real estate in Jay as marital or nonmarital and its award of spousal support, we must first consider how Greenleaf s Rule 52 motion affects the standard of appellate review. See Ehret v. Ehret, 2016 ME 43, ¶ 8, 135 A.3d 101.

         [¶7] After the entry of a judgment, if a party moves for findings pursuant to Rule 52, "the trial court must ensure that the judgment is supported by express factual findings that are based on record evidence, are sufficient to support the result, and are sufficient to inform the parties and any reviewing court of the basis for the decision." Id. ¶ 9. Although we ordinarily assume that a trial court found all the facts necessary to support its judgment, when, as here, "a motion for findings has been filed and denied, we cannot infer findings from the evidence in the record. Instead, the court's decision must include sufficient findings to support its result or the order must be vacated." Douglas v. Douglas,2012 ME 67, ...


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