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In re Marriage of Hollamon

Supreme Court of Montana

March 6, 2018

IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF: JOHN S. HOLLAMON, Petitioner and Appellant,
v.
BEVERLY P. HOLLAMON, Respondent and Appellee.

          Submitted on Briefs: February 14, 2018

         APPEAL FROM: District Court of the Fourth Judicial District, In and For the County of Missoula, Cause No. DR-14-14 Honorable Robert L. Deschamps, III, Presiding Judge

          For Appellant: P. Mars Scott, P, Mars Scott Law Offices; Missoula, Montana

          For Appellee: Dennis E. Lind, Datsopoulos, MacDonald & Lind; Missoula, Montana

          OPINION

          INGRID GUSTAFSON JUSTICE.

         ¶1 John Hollamon (John) appeals the May 26, 2017 order of the Fourth Judicial District Court, Missoula County, distributing the marital assets upon dissolution and awarding Beverly Hollamon (Beverly) maintenance. We affirm.

         ¶2 We restate the issues on appeal as follows:

1. Whether the District Court erred in awarding Beverly maintenance.
2. Whether the District Court erred in including John's investment accounts in calculating the division of the marital estate.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         ¶3 This case involves the dissolution of a long-term marriage. Beverly and John married in October 1995. John filed for dissolution in January 2014. The case was tried in June 2015 before Standing Master Brenda Desmond. Following a bench trial, the Standing Master issued a 34-page Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Decree dissolving the marriage, distributing assets and awarding maintenance to Beverly. John then appealed the Standing Master's order to this Court. This Court dismissed John's appeal because he failed to comply with § 3-5-126(2), MCA, requiring him to first seek review by the District Court. John subsequently filed objections to the Standing Master's order with the District Court. Following review of the record and additional hearing, the District Court issued its Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Order in May 2017. The District Court reduced the amount and duration of the maintenance award and affirmed the Standing Master's equitable division of the marital estate.

         ¶4 At the time of the dissolution, John was 64 years old and Beverly was 60 years old. They had been married nearly two decades. Prior to moving to Montana, the parties resided in South Carolina. When the parties resided in South Carolina, Beverly worked full-time in the banking industry earning approximately $49, 000 per year plus benefits and John worked managing the family dairy farm and operating a small business. John had vacationed in Montana and dreamed of living here. To pursue this dream, John and Beverly moved to Montana in 2006. After relocating to Montana, Beverly was not able to secure employment at the earnings or benefit level she did prior to the move. Beverly obtained part-time employment in Granite County as a substitute teacher and deputy clerk of court. Additionally, John agreed to provide Beverly $1, 000 per week to cover her expenses and in partial replacement of her previous income and benefits and Beverly agreed to continue to provide bookkeeping assistance for John's commodities business and billing for Hollamon Ranch, Inc. John paid Beverly these funds from 2006 through to the time of filing for dissolution. As determined by the Standing Master and confirmed by the District Court, by the time of dissolution, the parties had acquired significant property with a net marital estate of $5, 747, 302. The District Court adopted the Standing Master's findings with regard to an equitable distribution of the property awarding approximately 70% of the marital estate to John and 30% to Beverly.

         ¶5 The Standing Master included John's separate investment accounts when calculating the marital estate. John had three investment accounts with a balance of over $1, 500, 000. The Standing Master awarded John the investment accounts after specific distributions were made to Beverly. In Findings of Fact No. 118, the Standing Master stated, "all three accounts are held separately by John. John should retain these accounts as his separate accounts." The District Court affirmed, including John's investment accounts in the marital estate, and concluding "each party received property and cash proportionately to arrive at an equitable division of the marital estate."

         ¶6 The Standing Master awarded Beverly maintenance of $4, 000 per month for a period of 60 months. Upon review of the Standing Master's order, the District Court reduced the maintenance award to Beverly to $3, 000 per month for a period of 24 months. The District Court determined the Standing Master underestimated both Beverly's expenses and income. The District Court adjusted the maintenance based on Beverly's income generating property, her ability to remain in the workforce until retirement, and the fact she no longer had monthly vacation expenses as she had ...


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