IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF: MICHAEL ANDREW ESTES, Petitioner and Appellant,
BEVERLY SUE ESTES, Respondent and Appellee.
Submitted on Briefs: January 18, 2017
Court of the First Judicial District, In and For the County
of Lewis And Clark, Cause No. BDR-2015-529 Honorable DeeAnn
Cooney, Presiding Judge
Appellant: David B. Gallik, Gallik Law Office, PLLC, Helena,
Appellee: Barbra Burleigh, Burleigh Law Firm, PLLC, Helena,
Michael Andrews Estes (Michael) appeals from the Findings of
Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Decree of Dissolution entered
June 17, 2016, by the First Judicial District Court, Lewis
and Clark County. We affirm.
Michael presents the following issues for review:
1. Whether the District Court abused its discretion by
excluding premarital property from the marital estate.
2. Whether the District Court abused its discretion in
apportioning the marital estate.
3. Whether the District Court abused its discretion by
denying Michael maintenance.
4. Whether the District Court abused its discretion by
denying Michael attorney fees.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Michael and Beverly Sue Estes (Beverly) were married on
September 14, 2002. Both had been married previously.
Relevant here, upon Beverly's dissolution in 1999 to her
previous husband, Beverly was awarded multiple financial
accounts and Dana's Point, a waterfront residence on
Hauser Lake that she and her previous husband had built and
in which she currently resides. Dana's Point, along with
127.5 acres, was awarded to Beverly in lieu of her share in
the business Beverly and her former husband had built. The
property was owned by Beverly at the time of her marriage to
Michael and had no debt attached to it prior to or during the
parties' marriage. Beverly, who is 60 and retired, is
dependent upon the income from the financial accounts she
acquired as a result of her prior dissolution, which are in
excess of $400, 000. Beverly's income from these accounts
varies; however, in 2015 it was $36, 674.
When Michael and Beverly first met, Beverly was residing at
Dana's Point and Michael was residing in a trailer.
Michael's past employment history was that of a laborer
in the building trades. He did not work year round and would
collect unemployment during the time he was off. Between the
time the parties were married in 2002 and until 2007, Michael
estimates he earned between $20, 000 and $22, 000 annually.
The District Court found that Michael's testimony
regarding employment after 2007 could not be given much
weight since "[he] testified he either could not recall
or would 'guess' in response to questioning."
Beverly alleges Michael stopped working full time at 55 years
of age, which would have been in 2008. Michael currently
continues to work sporadically for Myron Laib, on a cash
basis, doing handyman work. Michael receives $1, 175 per
month in Social Security.
Upon their marriage, Beverly paid off the remaining $15, 000
owed on the trailer Michael was living in. Michael and
Beverly decided to sell the trailer and that Michael would
move in with Beverly at Dana's Point. Their combined
income was approximately $50, 000 a year. While married to
Beverly, Michael gave Beverly his paychecks to help pay
monthly bills. Beverly separately maintained her investments
in her existing premarital accounts, except that she used
income from a premarital D.A. Davidson account to start a
D.A. Davidson IRA and a Roth IRA in Michael's name. At
the time of Michael and Beverly's dissolution, these two
IRAs were valued at $83, 000. The District Court found that
"Michael did not take any discernable steps to insure
for his future ...