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In re Marriage of Sheehan

Supreme Court of Montana

April 9, 2019

IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF: MARK DUANE SHEEHAN, Petitioner and Appellant,
v.
SHELLI R. FRAZIER, f/k/a SHELLI R. SHEEHAN, Respondent and Appellee.

          Submitted on Briefs: February 6, 2019

          APPEAL FROM: District Court of the Twentieth Judicial District, In and For the County of Sanders, Cause No. DR-16-31 Honorable James A. Manley, Presiding Judge

          For Appellant Howard Toole, Howard Toole Law Offices, Missoula, Montana

          For Appellee Jane E. Cowley, Reep, Bell, Laird & Jasper, P.C., Missoula, Montana

          James Jeremiah Shea Justice.

         ¶1 Pursuant to Section 1, Paragraph 3(c), Montana Supreme Court Internal Operating Rules, this case is decided by memorandum opinion and shall not be cited and does not serve as precedent. Its case title, cause number, and disposition shall be included in this Court's quarterly list of noncitable cases published in the Pacific Reporter and Montana Reports.

         ¶2 Mark Duane Sheehan appeals the Order of the Twentieth Judicial District Court, Sanders County, denying his M. R. Civ. P. 60(b) Motion to Set Aside his Marital Settlement Agreement. We affirm.

         ¶3 Shelli Frazier (formerly Sheehan) and Sheehan began cohabitating in 1999. In 2003, they had a daughter together. Frazier and Sheehan lived with their daughter in a log cabin built by Sheehan on property purchased decades earlier by Sheehan's parents, Rose and Richard Sheehan.

         ¶4 In 2004, Rose and Richard Sheehan executed a quitclaim deed transferring a one-half ownership interest of the family property (Property) to Frazier and to Frazier and Sheehan's minor daughter. On November 21, 2011, Frazier and Sheehan married.

         ¶5 In 2015, following Sheehan's incarceration, Sheehan and Frazier separated. In May 2016, Sheehan filed for dissolution of the marriage. On March 7, 2016, Sheehan executed a durable power of attorney (POA) in favor of his sister, Holly Sanders. The POA expressly granted Sanders the power to act on Sheehan's behalf to "settle any claim by compromise, arbitration or otherwise, whether relating to real property or not" and to "execute, deliver, and acknowledge any and all documents or instruments of whatever kind of character that will accomplish or facilitate the exercise of any of the foregoing powers." In August 2016, after the District Court issued its pre-trial order in the dissolution action and set a final hearing date, Sanders filed a Notice of Appearance on behalf of Sheehan and advised the District Court that she spoke regularly with Sheehan about his dissolution action.

         ¶6 On October 23, 2017, [1] in the presence of the District Court, Frazier and Sanders executed the Settlement Agreement; Sheehan did not personally appear. The Settlement Agreement stated in relevant part:

19. [Frazier] acquired a titled interest in real property and [Sheehan] has a marital interest in [Frazier's] property. The disposition of said interests is addressed herein.
20. [T]his Marital Settlement Agreement is intended to resolve the property rights of the parties and resolve all claims by either party for the payment of maintenance.
21. [T]his Marital Settlement Agreement is voluntary and each of the parties has read and approved this Marital Settlement Agreement after fully considering all of its provisions.
22. The parties acknowledge that this Agreement was negotiated at arm's length. This arrangement for settlement is fair, not unconscionable and both parties request that the court approve this Agreement and incorporate the same, fully, into ...

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