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Taylor v. Taylor

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Southern District, First Division

September 6, 2017

WILLIAM SCOTT TAYLOR, Petitioner-Appellant,
v.
COLLEEN M. TAYLOR, Respondent- Respondent.

         APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF DENT COUNTY Honorable Judge Sidney T. Pearson III

          OPINION

          MARY W. SHEFFIELD, P.J.

         William Scott Taylor ("Husband") appeals from the trial court's judgment dissolving his marriage to Colleen Melissa Taylor ("Wife") and dividing their marital property. Husband raises three points relied on, challenging the trial court's classification and division of property.[1] Husband's points are without merit because they ignore the standard of review, and the trial court's judgment is affirmed.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         Husband and Wife were married in 1987. In 2012, Husband told Wife he had been having affairs. Husband and Wife separated in March 2015, and Husband thereafter filed for dissolution of the marriage.

         The trial court held a two-day trial at which the primary issues involved the classification, valuation, and division of the parties' property. The property involved included numerous vehicles, pieces of farm equipment, guns, three parcels of real estate, several bank accounts, and several retirement accounts. The trial court entered its judgment dissolving the parties' marriage on March 22, 2016. As relevant to the issues on appeal, the judgment included the finding that Wife's non-marital property included "$60, 000.00 from her non-marital contribution into the marital residence" and that $5, 000 of Wife's non-marital property was contributed to purchase a second home owned by the parties. In addition to its other awards and as relevant to the issues raised in this appeal, the trial court awarded the marital home to Wife and awarded the second home, a parcel of hunting land, and a closed bank account valued at $13, 286 to Husband.

         Husband appeals.

         Standard of Review

         The following standard of review applies to each of the points Husband raises. The judgment in a dissolution case "must be affirmed unless it is unsupported by substantial evidence, it is against the weight of the evidence, or it erroneously declares or applies the law." Wansing v. Wansing, 277 S.W.3d 760, 766 (Mo. App. S.D. 2009). Moreover, this Court views "the evidence and reasonable inferences therefrom in a light most favorable to the prevailing party and disregard[s] contradictory evidence." Id. (quoting McCallum v. McCallum, 128 S.W.3d 62, 65 (Mo. App. E.D. 2003)). "The trial judge may believe or disbelieve all, part, or none of the testimony of any witness, and the court may disbelieve testimony even when uncontradicted." Nelson v. Nelson, 25 S.W.3d 511, 518 (Mo. App. W.D. 2000) (quoting Gerhard v. Gerhard, 985 S.W.2d 927, 930 (Mo. App. S.D. 1999)). This Court will "defer to the trial court's determinations of credibility[.]" Wansing, 277 S.W.3d at 766.

         Point One: Classification of Property

         In his first point, Husband challenges the trial court's classification of two contributions Wife made to the acquisition of marital real estate. First, he challenges the classification of Wife's $60, 000 contribution to the marital home. Second, he challenges the classification of Wife's $5, 000 contribution to the second home.[2] He suggests the property was transmuted to marital property through joint titling. These arguments ignore the standard of review.

         "Section 452.330.1 requires the trial court to determine what property is separate and what is marital, set apart to each spouse each spouse's non-marital property, and divide the marital property as it deems just." In re Marriage of Dolence, 231 S.W.3d 331, 336 (Mo. App. S.D. 2007). Moreover, "[t]here is a statutory presumption that all property acquired by either spouse subsequent to the marriage is marital." Id. at 337. One exception to this presumption is where property is acquired in exchange for property acquired prior to the marriage. To overcome the presumption in such cases, "a party must show that the property was acquired in exchange for property accumulated prior to the marriage and prove by clear and convincing evidence that there was no intent to make a provision for, a settlement in favor of, or a gift to the other spouse." Willyard v. Willyard, 719 S.W.2d 91, 93 (Mo. App. E.D. 1986). This presumption can be overcome, for example, where there is evidence that the second spouse's name was included on the title at the insistence of a third party accompanied by testimony of the second spouse acknowledging the separate interest of the first spouse. Id.

         Husband's argument with respect to Wife's contribution to the marital home is without merit because it ignores evidence favorable to the trial court's ruling. Here, Wife testified that when she and Husband were first married they lived in a home on property she had inherited from her father. Over the next several years, the couple worked as a team to improve that property. In 1994, Husband bullied her into putting his name on the deed because of the work he had done. At that time, the property was worth about $60, 000. They subsequently sold that property and received approximately $127, 000. Husband and Wife then used $100, 000 of that money to pay the down payment on the marital home.

         Importantly, in his testimony at trial, Husband agreed that the first property was originally Wife's separate property. Although he believed the property was worth only $22, 000 he agreed that Wife inherited the property from her father and that it was not deeded to them as husband and wife until 1994. Wife's testimony that Husband bullied her into changing the title, when accompanied by Husband's admission that ...


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