Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Hebron v. Hebron

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Third Division

December 20, 2016

CHRISTINE HEBRON, Respondent,
v.
TIMOTHY HEBRON, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis Hon. James E. Sullivan.

          OPINION

          Angela T. Quigless, P.J.

         Timothy Hebron appeals from the decree of dissolution of marriage in the divorce action brought by his wife, Christine Hebron. In particular, he appeals the circuit court's finding that a bank account held by himself and his wife as joint tenants actually belonged to Christine Hebron's mother, Claire DePalma, who was not a party to the proceedings. We reverse and remand with instructions that the circuit court join sua sponte Claire DePalma as a necessary party pursuant to its authority under Rule 52.04, [1] and conduct a new trial in accordance with this opinion.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Timothy Hebron ("Husband") and Christine Hebron ("Wife") were married in February of 1996. Ten months later, Wife's mother, Claire DePalma, ("Mother") opened a bank account at Vanguard (the "Vanguard Account") and titled it in the name of Husband and Wife as joint tenants with rights of survivorship. Mother completed the forms necessary to create this account and presented them to Husband and Wife for their signatures.

         The following facts are undisputed. Mother made the initial deposit into the Vanguard Account and she was the only person that ever made deposits into the account. Neither Husband nor Wife ever withdrew any funds from the Vanguard Account. The account statements were sent directly to Mother, and Husband and Wife never saw these statements. In fact, neither Husband nor Wife was aware of the balance in the Vanguard Account at any time prior to the divorce proceedings. The only act either Husband or Wife ever took in relation to the Vanguard Account prior to the commencement of this divorce proceeding was their signatures on the forms creating the account.

         Although Husband and Wife claimed the capital gains from the Vanguard Account on their income taxes, Mother actually paid for these taxes by giving Husband and Wife a check to cover the expense at the end of every year. The only dispute is that Husband claimed the check from Mother was not intended to cover the tax expenses of the Vanguard Account. Husband admitted at trial that Mother gave them a check at the end of each year, but claimed this was a Christmas gift.

         At trial, Mother testified that she created the Vanguard Account to provide for her future medical care, so that her children would have access to the funds necessary to pay for her medical care. Mother clearly testified, "It was not a gift. It was for my care. . . . It was never intended as a gift. It was always for my good." Similarly, Wife testified that:

My mom set up the account to have funds available should she ever need them for any kind of long-term care, any type of thing like that. The account was not to be touched by [my Husband] nor I. It was, it's solely my mom's money set up for that purpose.

         There was also evidence that Mother set up similar accounts in the names of her other children and their spouses. Each of the other children similarly testified that those accounts were also intended to provide for Mother's care and medical expenses, and not as gifts.

         In May of 2015, Wife filed for dissolution of marriage. Husband and Wife agreed to a settlement disposing of all issues regarding property settlement except for one, the division of assets in the Vanguard Account. The circuit court conducted a bench trial on this issue alone. After trial, the court issued findings of fact and conclusions of law, concluding that the Vanguard Account was not subject to division in the divorce. The court found that Mother never intended to gift the money in the Vanguard Account to Husband and Wife, therefore the property was neither marital nor separate property because it was never acquired by them during the marriage. The circuit court also noted in its findings that it was not fully informed of the circumstances of the Vanguard Account, and that if it had been prior to trial, the court would have requested that Mother intervene in the case.

         The circuit court then issued a judgment dissolving the marriage and dividing the marital property according to the Joint Stipulation to Division of Property and Debts agreed to by the parties. The court also issued the following order:

Neither party shall withdraw, transfer, encumber, or alter in any form or fashion the [Vanguard Account] currently titled in the name of Husband and Wife as joint tenants with right of survivorship, until further order of Court.

         After the judgment, Wife filed a motion requesting the court reopen the evidence to allow Mother to join as a third-party intervenor. Husband opposed this motion and filed his own motion to amend the judgment, raising the same issue as in this appeal. Mother filed a motion to intervene ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.