IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF: JASON L. RORABAUGH, Petitioner and Appellee,
NIKKI L. ZELENKA, f/k/a RORABAUGH, Respondent and Appellant.
November 27, 2018, we issued an opinion in the above-entitled
action, affirming an order from the Eighteenth Judicial
District Court, Gallatin County, adopting the Standing
Master's findings of fact, conclusions of law, and a
final decree of dissolution (Final Decree) of the marriage
between Nikki Zelenka (Nikki), formerly known as Nikki
Rorabaugh, and Jason Rorabaugh (Jason). Rorabaugh v.
Zelenka, No. DA 18-0013, 2018 MT 286N, 2018 Mont. LEXIS
408. Nikki timely filed a petition for rehearing on December
11, 2018. Jason filed his response on December 21, 2018.
App. P. 20(1)(a)(i) provides that a petition for rehearing
may be considered when the Court "overlooked some fact
material to the decision."
argues the Court's decision contains two factual errors.
First, Nikki appears to argue that the following statement
from the Opinion is erroneous: "[The Standing Master]
also encouraged the parties to sell the marital home and take
other measures to reduce their monthly expenses . . . ."
Rorabaugh, ¶ 5. The August 2012 hearing
transcript demonstrates the Standing Master and the parties
discussed reducing expenses and selling the marital home. The
statement is not erroneous.
the Opinion states that "In October 2017, after Nikki
objected to the Standing Master's Final Decree, the
District Court held a hearing to allow Nikki to present
additional evidence supporting her objections. Nikki raised
the same concerns to the District Court that she had raised
to the Standing Master and provided no additional evidence
supporting her requests for retroactive child support,
maintenance, attorney fees, and health insurance
coverage." Rorabaugh, ¶ 14. Nikki and
Jason both agree the District Court did not allow either
party to present additional evidence at the October 2017
hearing. Instead, the District Court heard oral argument with
respect to Nikki's objections based on the evidence that
had been available to the Standing Master when she issued the
this statement appears to be in error, we agree that it is
appropriate to correct it-however, it is immaterial to our
resolution of the case. As the Opinion states, although many
years passed between the parties' December 2013 trial and
the June 2017 Final Decree, the Standing Master allowed the
parties to submit additional financial information in May
2015, and Nikki submitted even more supplemental information
in her December 2015 pro se notice of appearance.
Rorabaugh, ¶¶ 13, 18. The Standing Master
considered both the financial information and Nikki's
supplemental information when issuing the Final Decree.
Moreover, the Final Decree divided the parties' assets
according to their present values in October 2017, evenly
divided Nikki's student loan debt, generally held each
party responsible for their own debts, and held that any
individual party's debt secured by a lien against the
parties' real property should be satisfied from their
portion of their real property equity. Rorabaugh,
fully considered the parties' positions, we conclude that
rehearing is not warranted under the standards of M. R. App.
20(1)(a), but that two minor changes must be made to the
Court's Opinion. Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that
Paragraphs 14 and 18 of the Opinion in this matter are
AMENDED as follows:
(1) Paragraph 14:
In October 2017, after Nikki objected to the Standing
Master's Final Decree, the District Court held a hearing
to allow Nikki to present oral argument additional evidence supporting her objections.
Nikki raised the same concerns to the District Court that she
had raised to the Standing Master and provided no additional
reasoning evidence supporting her
requests for retroactive child support, maintenance, attorney
fees, and health insurance coverage.
(2) Paragraph 18:
Although well over three years elapsed between trial in
December 2013 and the Standing Master's Final Decree in
October 2017, the Standing Master did reopen the case for
disclosure of updated financial information in May 2015. The
parties supplied the updated information, and the Standing
Master considered it alongside the additional information
both parties filed between December 2013 and October 2017
before issuing the Final Decree. The Final Decree divided the
marital home, condominium, and 401(k) retirement account
according to their values as of the Final Decree date
(October 2017), not the trial date (December 2013). The Final
Decree also evenly divided Nikki's student loan debt,
generally held each party responsible for their own debts,
and held that any individual party's debt secured by a
lien against the parties' real property "should be
satisfied from the individual's marital portion of the
equity in the real property awarded to each." Therefore,
the liens Jason's parents and attorney placed on the
parties' real property had no effect on Nikki's
equity in the properties. Before adopting the Standing
Master's Final Decree, the District Court heard argument
testimony from Nikki regarding the
liens and her post-trial debt. In her motion
to reopen the case after the District Court adopted the
Standing Master's Final Decree, Nikki provided no
information to the District Court that it did not already
have. The District Court did not abuse its discretion
by denying her motion to reopen the case.
Amended Opinion is issued herewith.
FURTHER ORDERED that the petition for rehearing is DENIED.
Clerk of Court is directed to mail copies hereof to ...