443 N.W.2d 639 (S.D. 1989), 16291, Studt v. Studt

Docket Nº:16291.
Citation:443 N.W.2d 639
Opinion Judge:The opinion of the court was delivered by: Wuest
Party Name:Rebecca STUDT, Appellant, v. Roger STUDT, Appellee.
Attorney:Robert B. Anderson, May, Adam, Gerdes & Thompson, Pierre, South Dakota, Attorneys for Appellant.
Case Date:July 05, 1989
Court:Supreme Court of South Dakota

Page 639

443 N.W.2d 639 (S.D. 1989)

Rebecca STUDT, Appellant,


Roger STUDT, Appellee.

No. 16291.

Supreme Court of South Dakota.

July 5, 1989

Considered on Briefs March 23, 1989.

Page 640

Robert B. Anderson, May, Adam, Gerdes & Thompson, Pierre, for appellant.

J.M. Grossenburg, Day & Grossenburg, Winner, for appellee.

WUEST, Chief Justice.

The trial court entered judgment granting Rebecca Studt (Rebecca) and Roger Studt (Roger) a divorce on the basis of extreme cruelty. Rebecca appeals those portions of the judgment regarding property division, alimony and child support. We affirm in part and reverse and remand in part.

The parties were married on August 14, 1970. At the time of trial, both parties were thirty-six years of age and enjoyed excellent health. Two children were born of the marriage, a daughter who was eight years old at the time of the divorce and a son who was age four at that time.

At the time of their marriage, Roger had an eighth grade education. Since the age of thirteen years, he had been engaged in farming. Rebecca had completed one year of college. During the first eight years of her marriage to Roger, Rebecca had worked at the South Dakota State Library in Pierre, South Dakota, and at a bank in Presho, South Dakota. Following the birth of the parties' first child, Rebecca did not

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return to work outside the home. Instead, she devoted full time to her duties as a housewife and mother. Rebecca also contributed to the operation of the farm by occasionally helping with the chores and performing necessary bookkeeping tasks.

The parties' goal at the time of their marriage was to acquire a farming operation. The records show they were successful in attaining this goal. At the time of trial, they owned 775 acres of farmland and leased an additional 1200 acres. Of the 775 acres owned by the parties, 160 acres had been a gift from Roger's parents. This gift was made during the parties' marriage. The record shows that the parties had operated a profitable farm and that they had accumulated other property, including farm equipment, livestock and grain. The trial court credited the farming operation's success to both parties, finding that both contributed 100 percent of their time and efforts.

The trial court determined the value of the marital assets to be $261,642. It also found that the marital liabilities totalled $157,328 and that Roger brought into the marriage assets worth $13,000. After these amounts were subtracted, the value of marital property for division was $91,314. The trial court ordered Roger to pay Rebecca $25,000 as her interest in the marital property. Rebecca also was awarded various items in her possession and personal property. Roger was awarded the remaining marital property, along with the liability for the marital debts.

Rebecca was awarded rehabilitative alimony in the amount of $400 per month for thirty-six months. The trial court determined that rehabilitative alimony was necessary for Rebecca so that she could improve her chances of securing meaningful employment. Roger was also ordered to pay one-half of Rebecca's attorney fees.

Although the trial court found both parties to be fit parents, it awarded Rebecca primary custody of the children. The trial court determined the parties' average income for the five years preceding the divorce to be $23,370. It then ordered Roger to pay child support in the amount of $250 per child per month.

On appeal, Rebecca contends that the trial court improperly computed the value of the marital assets, divided the property inequitably, and inadequately awarded rehabilitative alimony and child support. Rebecca also moves for additional costs and attorney fees for bringing this appeal. We will address each issue separately.


    Rebecca argues that the trial court was clearly erroneous in valuing the parties' property, particularly the real estate, livestock, grain, and bank accounts and insurance. She also claims error in the trial court's determination of the parties' liabilities. We disagree with Rebecca's contentions with regard to the realty, but we find the trial court's determination of the value of the grain and the bank accounts and insurance to be clearly erroneous.

    This court has previously held that "[e]xactitude is not required of the trial court in the valuation of assets in a dissolution proceeding; it is only necessary that the value arrived at lies within a reasonable range of figures." Baltzer v. Baltzer, 422 N.W.2d 584, 586 (S.D.1988) (quoting Goehry v. Goehry, 354 N.W.2d 192, 196 (S.D.1984)). The only time this court will interfere with a trial court's valuations is when they are clearly erroneous or where assets are completely overlooked by said court. Herrboldt v. Herrboldt, 303 N.W.2d 571, 572 (S.D.1981). In the absence of a stipulation as to the value of marital assets, the parties must "produce hard evidence as to those values other than their own personal opinions." Hanks v. Hanks, 296 N.W.2d 523, 526 (S.D.1980). The trial court, however, is not required to accept either party's proposed valuation. Baltzer, 422 N.W.2d at 586; Hanks, 296 N.W.2d at 526.

    The record in the present case supports the trial court's findings with regard to the value of the real estate. At the trial, Rebecca introduced an appraisal valuing the real property at $139,600. She also testified that the value of the realty was

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    higher. In his testimony, Roger valued the real estate at $119,275. The trial court, in its findings of fact, stated that the parties' realty was worth $135,000. Since this...

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