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Cashman v. Robertson

Supreme Court of Maine

January 15, 2019

DANIELLE N. (HASHEY) CASHMAN
v.
JAISON W. (HASHEY) ROBERTSON

          Submitted On Briefs: November 28, 2018

          Joseph W. Baiungo, Esq., Belfast, for appellant Jaison (Hashey) Robertson

          Christopher K. MacLean, Esq., and Laura P. Shaw, Esq., Camden Law LLP, Camden, for appellee Danielle N. (Hashey) Cashman

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

          HUMPHREY, J.

         [¶1] Jaison W. (Hashey) Robertson appeals from a judgment of divorce entered by the District Court (Belfast, Worth, J.). Jaison contends that the court erred by adopting Danielle N. (Hashey) Cashmans proposed judgment and erred in its classification of marital property and the determination of his income. We affirm the judgment.

         I. INDEPENDENCE OF THE JUDGMENT

         [¶2] We begin by addressing Jaisons challenge to the legitimacy of the courts judgment. He argues that the court erred in adopting Danielles proposed judgement without exercising its independent judgment.

         [¶3] "[A] trial courts verbatim adoption of findings or orders proposed by one party in a case is disfavored, as such an approach suggests that the court has not carefully reviewed the evidence or applied its independent judgment in making its findings and conclusions." Yap v. Vinton, 2016 ME 58, ¶ 10, 137 A.3d 194; see also Jarvis v. Jarvis, 2003 ME 53, ¶ 14, 832 A.2d 775. When a court adopts a proposed order without material change, we consider "whether the findings and order reflect the application of judgment by the court and not simply one of the parties." See Yap, 2016 ME 58, ¶ 10, 137 A.3d 194.

         [¶4] Contrary to Jaisons argument that the court improperly adopted Danielles proposed judgment verbatim, the divorce order, when read in its entirety, reflects the fair and independent judgment of the court. See id. While it is clear that the court drew substantially from portions of Danielles proposed judgment and imported some language directly, the final divorce order differed substantially from Danielles proposal in several key areas. The court clearly exercised its independent judgment by departing from Danielles proposed judgment in its underlying factual findings, allocation of parental rights and responsibilities, discussion of spousal support, award of attorney fees, and allocation of the guardian ad litem costs. The court did not, as Jaison suggests, take Danielles versions of the facts without basis. Rather, the court exercised its independent judgment and made factual findings that are supported by competent evidence, much of which Jaison himself submitted or, at the very least, did not dispute. Further, the trial court was best positioned to review the testimony and credibility of all witnesses and give weight to the evidence submitted. See Sloan v. Christianson, 2012 ME 72, ¶ 29, 43 A.3d 978. Jaisons challenge to the integrity of the judgment is therefore unpersuasive and we next consider his challenges to the financial aspects of the courts order.

         II. BACKGROUND

         [¶5] The following facts, which are supported by the evidence, are drawn from the divorce judgment. See Sullivan v. George, 2018 ME 115, ¶ 2, 191 A.3d 1168.

         [¶6] Danielle and Jaison were married in Maine on September 13, 2003, and separated in July 2016. The parties two minor daughters reside with Danielle, who has always been their primary caretaker. For much of their marriage, Jaison behaved violently toward Danielle and "intentionally exposed the children to his angry and threatening style." Both children have expressed hesitation and fear about visiting with him because of his frequent angry outbursts.[1]

         [¶7] Both parties have six-figure incomes. Danielle earns approximately $144, 000 per year and pays for the family's health insurance and childcare expenses. Jaison owns and operates a construction business that generated gross revenues of $492, 453 in 2016. Although Jaison maintains that in 2016 he had no personal income and suffered a loss of $6, 328, the court determined, based on information he provided in two loan ...


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