Court of Appeals of Missouri, Southern District, Second Division
In re the Marriage of Kent A. Sivils and Patricia J. Sivils.
PATRICIA J. SIVILS, Respondent/Respondent. KENT A. SIVILS, Petitioner/Appellant,
FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF GREENE COUNTY Honorable J. Ronald
Carrier, Associate Circuit Judge
WILLIAM W. FRANCIS, JR., J.
Sivils ("Husband") appeals the "Judgment and
Decree of Dissolution of Marriage"
("Judgment") entered by the trial
court. In two points on appeal, Husband asserts
the trial court erred in failing to make a proper division of
marital property. Finding no merit to Husband's claims,
and Procedural History
recite the facts of this matter in accord with the principle
that we view the facts in the light most favorable to the
judgment. We credit all evidence and reasonable inferences in
favor of the judgment, and disregard unfavorable facts and
inferences. Landewee v. Landewee, 515 S.W.3d 691,
694 (Mo. banc 2017).
and Patricia J. Sivils ("Wife") were married on
March 16, 1996. Two children were born of the marriage:
daughter K.M.S., now age 20, and son C.A.S., now age 15.
leaving the Navy, Wife obtained a radiology license and began
employment at Ferrell-Duncan Clinic in Springfield as an
x-ray mammographer in 1994. As of 2015, her yearly income was
$59, 633.00. Through that employment, Wife contributed to a
retirement account with a balance of approximately $195,
000.00, at the time of trial.
held various jobs during the marriage, including auto body
work, and heating and air conditioning work. At the time of
trial, he was doing auto body work and had been employed for
a year and a half. His wages for 2015 totaled $38, 064.69.
course of the marriage, Husband displayed bellicose and
violent behaviors toward Wife. On at least two occasions,
Husband hit Wife. Husband would go on "verbal
rampages" against Wife, often in front of the children.
In such instances, the children would become scared, run to
their rooms, and put their sheets over their heads. Husband
would also berate Wife in public, using coarse and derisive
C.A.S. was two, he began sleeping with Husband and Wife in
the marital bed. At this time, Husband was already
primarily sleeping in the basement and had
"disconnected" himself from the rest of the family.
Husband would work out in the garage until the early morning
hours and then would "crash out downstairs." When
C.A.S. began sleeping in the marital bed, Husband permanently
removed himself from the marital bedroom and moved into the
Husband moved to the basement, he had little contact with the
children. He attended very few school events or
extracurricular activities, leaving the parenting duties to
Wife. Both children were involved in competitive dance,
particularly C.A.S. Wife took the children to regular dance
practices and competitions. Husband had no substantive
involvement with C.A.S., particularly with his dance
activities. He also failed to attend parent-teacher
conferences and school open houses for C.A.S. Husband also
contributed very little to the children's support,
leaving Wife the burden of meeting the children's needs.
Wife paid, among other expenses, costs associated with the
children's health and dental insurance, accidental
insurance for C.A.S., and $465.00 per month for C.A.S.'s
2010, Husband was involved in a motorcycle accident when he
collided with a FedEx truck. Husband sustained scrapes,
bruises, and a broken wrist. Husband was released to return
to work after a few weeks, but refused Wife's requests do
so because he "thought that if he didn't go back to
work, " they "would get more money." From 2010
until 2014, Husband mowed a few lawns, did some side auto
body repair work, and received some unemployment funds.
Husband kept the money he made from mowing lawns and the auto
body repair work for himself, and only deposited the
unemployment funds in the couple's joint account.
this time, Wife was paying all of the household expenses,
relying heavily on credit cards at Husband's urging.
Husband insisted that once he received a settlement for his
accident, the money would be used to pay off the credit
cards. Wife incurred substantial credit card debt as a
result. Husband also utilized credit cards, but used the
cards for personal rather than family expenses. Husband's
parents occasionally deposited money into the couple's
joint bank account to help with expenses.
March 2012, Husband settled the personal injury lawsuit
arising out of the motorcycle accident, and received net
settlement proceeds of $103, 076.72. The funds were initially
deposited in Husband and Wife's joint account, pending a
temporary hold until the funds could be released for joint
use by the parties. However, Husband's father persuaded a
senior vice president at the bank to remove the hold, and
Husband then wrote a check to his mother for $25, 000.00, and
a check to his father for $50, 000.00. Husband's mother
in turn wrote a check for $56, 000.00, and used it to open a
checking account in her name, but the account was for
Husband's exclusive use. Husband's purpose in having
the account opened was to prevent Wife from having any access
to these funds, and so that Husband could conduct whatever
financial transactions he wanted without Wife's input or
Wife discovered that the hold on the account had been
surreptitiously lifted and a significant portion of the funds
removed, she moved the remaining $23, 000.00 to her own
separate account. She used those funds for household
expenses, and expenses relating to the children.
of Husband's actions, in 2012, the parties stopped
operating from a joint checking account. Wife provided
Husband with a list of expenses relating to the children, and
requested Husband's assistance in paying them. Husband
refused, and even declined to contribute toward the
children's clothes and school lunches. He also decided,
after he obtained his settlement, that he would no longer
contribute any money toward groceries because Wife and his
children "wasted so much food that I-I just couldn't
deal with that anymore[.]"
initially paid some marital bills out of the $56, 000.00,
including mortgage payments on the marital home, utilities,
and credit cards. Husband also paid for Wife's car
insurance in exchange for Wife keeping Husband on her
healthcare insurance. However, at one point, Husband refused
to pay the propane bill, and the propane company locked the
propane tank, which left the family with only a pellet stove
as a source of heat for the entire house.
then squandered a significant amount of the settlement funds
on personal entertainment such as online gambling, as well as
betting on horse races and football games through a bookie.
2012, Husband threatened to kill wife. Wife sought an ex
parte order of protection, which she subsequently dropped.
K.M.S.'s graduation from high school, Wife wished to take
the children on a cruise. Husband refused to consent and sign
the necessary paperwork for the children to obtain passports.
He later suggested he would have consented if the children
were to "grovel a little bit."
February 2014, Husband obtained a check for $1, 200.00 from
the couple's joint investment account at Edward Jones.
The check was payable to Husband and Wife, but Husband forged
Wife's signature on the check, and then deposited the
check into his separate account on March 4, 2014.
filed for divorce on March 20, 2014. Wife filed an answer and
a "Counter Petition for Dissolution of Marriage."
Husband subsequently returned to work and was ordered to pay
temporary child support in the amount of $665.00 per month
for the support of the couple's two children, which
Husband did not voluntarily pay so that Wife was forced to
garnish his wages.
thereafter, Husband stopped paying the insurance on
K.M.S.'s car. He did not inform Wife, but instead texted
his daughter, stating: "I hope you're not driving
your car, because you don't have insurance on it[.]"
of the marital property, Husband and Wife owned a house and
real estate they used for rental income. Wife actually
acquired this property in 1994, prior to the marriage, but in
2002, added Husband's name to the title of the property
when they began using it as rental property. A mortgage
remained on the property, which Wife continued to pay. For a
time, both Husband and Wife were involved in the rental
property. In 2012, after the couple separated their finances,
Husband told Wife, "I'm not going back over there.
You know what? It's all yours. I'm done[.]"
Thereafter, without any help from Husband, Wife made the
necessary repairs on the rental property, performed all
business matters related thereto, and continued to pay the
mortgage. To do so, Wife borrowed money from her mother.
Thereafter, the rental property was sold for approximately
$90, 000.00. After payment of the existing mortgage, Wife
netted the amount of $22, 677.62.
2014, Husband repaired the radiator in Wife's car, for
which he sent her an invoice for his labor. At the end of the
invoice, he handwrote a note: "I want my money. If I
don't get it, I will put a hole in your new
radiator." Husband subsequently attempted to explain
this note by suggesting he performed the work on a Saturday,
it was hot, Wife was unable to take the car anywhere else
because "they wouldn't do it for free, " and
"all [Wife] did was pay for the radiator."
May 2014, Husband stopped paying the mortgage on the marital
home, but did not tell Wife. He received a
delinquency/foreclosure notice from the mortgage company, and
a notice to vacate, but again did not inform Wife. In October
2014, Wife learned through a friend at an insurance company
that her house had been sold at a foreclosure sale 20 days
prior, and that there was a letter of eviction for the
family's removal from the marital home.
to foreclosure and post-foreclosure proceedings, and fearing
that her things and those of her children would be put out in
the yard if she did not vacate the marital house immediately,
Wife quickly found a new place to live, and moved out by
November 6, 2014. C.A.S. was devastated when he learned he
would have to move from the only home he had known, and that
Husband had "never said a word to him" about it.
Wife did all the packing for the move in the evenings after
she finished taking the children to their dance activities.
Husband did not assist at all in this endeavor. When Wife and
the children moved, Husband again gave no assistance, and
Wife was forced to rely on friends to move the family's
remained in the marital house for several more months without
making any payments or arrangements for his continued
occupancy of the home. In December 2014, an unlawful detainer
action was filed against both Husband and Wife for
Husband's continued occupancy of the house. Despite
Husband being served with this action, which listed Wife also
as a defendant, Husband did not inform Wife. Wife was never
personally served, and when she learned of the action,
incurred attorney's fees defending herself even though
she had vacated the house.
2014, Husband removed himself entirely from C.A.S.'s
life. Husband spent between two and three minutes a month
with C.A.S., and texted him approximately once a month. In
November 2014, the guardian ad litem requested Husband attend
a dance performance in which C.A.S. was participating.
Husband watched one dance, and then left. C.A.S. looked for
Husband as soon as he was done dancing, but Husband had
two-day trial commenced on May 31, 2016. On August 2, 2016,
the trial court entered its "Judgment and Decree of
Dissolution of Marriage." The trial court awarded the
parties joint physical custody of the children, with Wife
having sole legal custody and Wife's address designated
for mailing and educational purposes. Husband was awarded
parenting time with the children per the trial court's
parenting plan. Husband was to pay the sum of $778.00 per
month for child support for both children until K.M.S. became
emancipated, at which time he would then pay the sum of
$633.00 per month for C.A.S. The child support included
court-ordered extraordinary costs for the children of $465.00
trial court awarded to Wife non-marital furniture and
personal property in the amount of $761.00; the
children's furniture and personal property in the amount
of $400.00; and marital property in the amount of $231,
078.14. The trial court ordered Wife to pay
marital debt in the amount of $73, 058.88.
trial court awarded to Husband non-marital furniture and
personal property in the amount of $3, 286.00. Husband was
awarded marital property in the amount of $6, 525.00, and was
ordered to pay $30, 775.82 of the marital debt.
trial court acknowledged that the division of property and
debt weighed in favor of Wife, but that
having considered all relevant factors including, but not
limited to, the specific factors as set forth herein the
[c]ourt does find that the division of property and debt . .
. is fair and equitable under the circumstances of this case.
Frankly, [Husband]'s treatment of his wife and children
both emotionally and financially is one of the more severe
cases of such conduct this [c]ourt has witnessed.
filed a motion for rehearing and a motion to amend judgment,
both of which ...