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In re Marriage of Malloy

Supreme Court of Montana

October 8, 2019

PATRICK A. MALLOY, III, Respondent and Appellant.

          Submitted on Briefs: August 28, 2019

          APPEAL FROM: District Court of the Fourth Judicial District, In and For the County of Missoula, Cause No. DR-17-532 Honorable Robert L. Deschamps, III, Presiding Judge

          For Appellant: Jami L. Rebsom, Jami Rebsom Law Firm, PLLC, Livingston, Montana

          For Appellee: Jami Prins, Jones & Cook, Missoula, Montana



         ¶1 Pursuant to Section I, 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 Patrick A. Malloy III (Patrick) appeals the November 2018 judgments of the Montana Fourth Judicial District Court dividing the parties' marital estate, denying his request for spousal maintenance, and denying his request for attorney fees. We affirm.

         ¶3 Patrick and Bettina Malloy (Tina) were married in Missoula, Montana, on August 4, 1990. Two children were subsequently born as issue of the marriage and became adults prior to this action. With help from Tina's parents, both parties were actively involved in raising their children.

         ¶4 Patrick was serving in the United States Air Force when the parties were married, later served in the United States Army for two years, and then served in the Air Force Reserves until 1994. He thereafter worked as a manager in a Missoula paint store until injured in a work-related car accident in or about 1997. After obtaining a $250, 000 workers' compensation insurance settlement in 1999, Patrick studied computer technology at the University of Montana (UM) from 1999-2001 but did not ultimately obtain a degree.[1]From 2000 forward, Patrick worked as an equipment repair technician for Diamond Products, Inc., in Missoula until fired in 2009. Patrick attributed the firing to his inability to adequately function due to injury-related pain and prescription drug use. The District Court noted that he testified that he had no further issues with prescription drug use after undergoing chemical dependency treatment in Michigan in 2012.[2] Though he has not worked full-time since 2009, Patrick has been capable of performing some degree of physical work. He does not dispute that he acknowledged at trial that he is able to work at the "right job."[3] The District Court further noted that he anticipates being eligible for Veterans Administration health and disability benefits in the wake of the divorce.

         ¶5 Tina worked at Community Medical Center (CMC) in Missoula from 1992-2007. She obtained an Associate Degree in Licensed Practical Nursing in 2007 and later obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing. Since 2015, she has been employed as a registered nurse with Providence Medical Systems (St. Patrick's Hospital) in Missoula. As of 2018, she also works in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at CMC. Tina has been the primary wage earner for the family since 2009. The District Court found that, over the last several years, she has generally worked 60-70 hours per week, at $33.14 per hour, with insurance and benefits.

         ¶6 The parties separated in or about July 2017. On August 2, 2017, Tina filed a district court petition for dissolution of their marriage and division of their marital estate. Patrick counter-petitioned for spousal maintenance and attorney fees. After extensive pretrial litigation, the matter came on for bench trial on October 11, 2018.

         ¶7 At the time of trial, Patrick and Tina were approximately 49 and 46 years old, respectively. Their Missoula home was the primary marital asset with an estimated value of $210, 000-$215, 000.[4] They had approximately $14, 802 in net equity in the home upon separation. Tina had a 401(k) retirement account valued at $29, 000.[5] The parties owned three vehicles at the time of separation-a 2012 Jeep Liberty encumbered by a $12, 950 loan, a 2009 Kia Rio, [6] and a 2007 Pontiac Vibe. Both parties had significant outstanding student loan debt-Tina $46, 000 and Patrick $57, 000. The parties also had various other outstanding debts including income tax debt, credit card debt, medical bills, and legal bills, inter alia. The District Court found that they had financial difficulty during the marriage due to overspending, medical costs, federal tax liability, and legal bills.

         ¶8 The District Court issued detailed post-trial findings of fact, conclusions of law, and judgment dissolving the parties' marriage, valuing and apportioning their marital estate, and denying Patrick's requests for spousal maintenance. The Court valued the marital estate as of the date of separation and apportioned it in accordance with its findings of fact and an attached spreadsheet.

         ¶9 Tina received the family home with the net marital equity ($14, 802). Each party received half of Tina's 401(k) retirement account. Tina received the 2012 Jeep Liberty with equity and debt. Patrick received the 2009 Kia and 2007 Pontiac.[7] Each kept their own student loan debt. Each party received half of the outstanding credit card debt ($3, 953.58 each), 2015 federal tax audit/penalty ($3, 579.58 each), pre-dissolution legal bills ($6, 902.88 each), [8] and delinquent taxes ($3, 549.10 each). The Court did not value and credit Patrick for any claimed household furnishings or jewelry because he listed none in his preliminary financial disclosure statement and did not present any evidence substantiating those claims at trial. Without elaboration, ...

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