Angel v. Angel, WD 72918.

Decision Date22 November 2011
Docket NumberNo. WD 72918.,WD 72918.
Citation356 S.W.3d 357
PartiesLamona E. ANGEL, Respondent, v. Richard Charles ANGEL, Appellant.
CourtMissouri Court of Appeals

OPINION TEXT STARTS HERE

Supreme Court Denied Dec. 20, 2011.

Application for Transfer

Denied Jan. 31, 2012.

Dennis Owens, Kansas City, MO, for Appellant.

Ross Myers, Lee's Summit, MO, for Respondent.

Before: ALOK AHUJA, P.J., THOMAS H. NEWTON, and JAMES EDWARD WELSH, JJ.

THOMAS H. NEWTON, Judge.

Mr. Richard C. Angel appeals from the trial court's judgment dissolving his marriage to Ms. Lamona E. Angel and awarding Ms. Angel maintenance. He argues that Ms. Angel failed to meet the threshold factors for an award of maintenance under section 452.335.1 We affirm.

Factual and Procedural Background

The Angels married in 1985. During the marriage, the parties operated a number of businesses, the most prominent of which was an auction service. For the first three years of the marriage, Ms. Angel worked as a barber; she then began working for their auction business. Through the marriage, the parties filed joint tax returns; Ms. Angel did not receive a 1099, a W–2, or a salary from her work. Over twenty-two years, the business's gross receipts grew from the $20,000 range to over $100,000 annually. The parties also acquired a number of real properties. At the time of trial, they collectively owned thirteen properties free of debt.

In March 2008, the parties separated when Mr. Angel moved from the marital home to his farm. In July 2009, Ms. Angel petitioned for dissolution, seeking a division of the marital property and maintenance; Mr. Angel counter-petitioned.

At trial, Ms. Angel testified that she was unemployed, 62 years old, and her only income was from social security in the amount of $316 a month. She further testified that her social security was low because the Angel's businesses had not made social security contributions on her behalf, a fact that she did not learn until she filed for social security benefits after the separation. She also learned after the separation that Mr. Angel had opened a $120,000 investment account in his name only.

She testified to certain individual expenses that, when added together, total a minimum of $1,326.25, but it is unclear to this court what amount was alleged to be her reasonable expenses, as her income and expense statement, although admitted into evidence, was not provided to this court on appeal. 2 At trial, Mr. Angel claimed that he had forgotten about the investment account. He was 52 years old at the time of trial. His social security was calculated to be $1,500 a month when he began to draw it in the future.

In its dissolution judgment, the trial court found Mr. Angel's statement as to his alleged income of $748 not to be credible as Mr. Angel had expended significantly more than that in the months preceding the dissolution. It determined that Mr. Angel held two properties as nonmarital assets. It then awarded Ms. Angel two properties valued at approximately $230,000; household and personal items valued at $50,000; a car valued at $11,000; $40,000 of the parties' investment account; a CD valued at $86,000; and ordered Ms. Angel to pay approximately $4,400 of the parties' debt. Mr. Angel was awarded nine properties, valued at approximately $440,000; 3 household and personal items valued at approximately $16,600; three vehicles valued at $19,500; $70,000 of the parties' investment account; $2,000 from another account; and was ordered to pay approximately $141,000 of the parties' debt.

The parties thus received roughly an equal amount of marital assets, net of debt. Mr. Angel also received the parties' four business entities with the trial court assigning them no value. It further awarded Ms. Angel maintenance of $700 per month, finding that she lacked sufficient income to provide for her reasonable needs and that although capable of being employed, because of “her age and circumstances will have a very difficult time earning the amount of income she and [Mr. Angel] earned working together in the auction business.” The maintenance was to continue until either party's death, Ms. Angel's remarriage, or further court order. Mr. Angel appeals.

Standard of Review

The trial court's judgment is reviewed under Murphy v. Carron, 536 S.W.2d 30, 32 (Mo. banc 1976). McKown v. McKown, 280 S.W.3d 169, 172 (Mo.App. W.D.2009). We sustain the trial court's judgment unless it is not supported by substantial evidence, it is against the weight of the evidence, or applies or declares the law erroneously. Id. The record is viewed in the light most favorable to the judgment, and we draw reasonable inferences in the judgment's favor. Id. Thus, the burden to show error falls on the party challenging the decree. Childers v. Childers, 26 S.W.3d 851, 853 (Mo.App. W.D.2000). Further, [a]s to maintenance orders, the trial court is granted broad discretion, and the evidence is viewed favorably to the decree, disregarding evidence to the contrary and deferring to the trial court even if the evidence could support a different conclusion.” Id.

Legal Analysis

In his sole point on appeal, Mr. Angel argues the trial court erred in awarding maintenance. Subsection 452.335.1 authorizes the trial court to award maintenance if it finds that the spouse seeking maintenance:

(1) Lacks sufficient property, including marital property apportioned to him, to provide for his reasonable needs; and

(2) Is unable to support himself through appropriate employment....

The subsection thus provides a threshold test for whether maintenance should be awarded: (1) can the party meet their needs through property, including that awarded in the dissolution? (2) If not, can the party's needs be met through appropriate employment? Childers, 26 S.W.3d at 854. Once the trial court determines maintenance is warranted, subsection 452.335.2 further authorizes the court to award the amount of maintenance it “deems just” after considering nine statutory factors and [a]ny other relevant factors.” 4

Mr. Angel argues that Ms. Angel failed to meet the threshold factors for an award of maintenance under subsection 452.335.1. Mr. Angel does not challenge the amount of the maintenance award, only the granting of maintenance. He contends that the trial court failed to determine Ms. Angel's reasonable needs, and failed to consider that Ms. Angel received sufficient income-producing marital property to exceed the only evidence of her reasonable needs. He further argues that Ms. Angel is capable of supporting herself through employment as a barber or auctioneer.

452.335.1(1): Ability to meet reasonable needs through marital property

Ms. Angel's reasonable needs

The trial court's judgment did not make a specific finding as to Ms. Angel's reasonable needs. As neither party requested factual findings, the trial court was not required to do so. Henning v. Henning, 72 S.W.3d 241, 247 (Mo.App. W.D.2002).

As noted, Ms. Angel submitted a statement of income and expenses into evidence. However, the only evidence in the record before us is Ms. Angel's testimony of expenses. Ms. Angel testified that she had: HOA dues of $32 a month, home maintenance of $100 a month, $300 a month for utilities, automobile expenses of $223, $150 a month for health insurance, $115 for homeowner's/rental insurance, $66.25 a month for auto insurance, and $340 a month for other expenses such as “food, clothing, church contributions, and toiletries.” Although the individual insurance items total $331.25, Ms. Angel subsequently stated her “total insurance expense” was $391.25. Mr. Angel argues Ms. Angel's reasonable needs are $1,386.25.

“Where no specific findings are requested, the appellate court presumes that the trial court resolved all factual issues in accordance with the result reached.” Henning, 72 S.W.3d at 247; see Rule 73.01(c). No testimony was offered that $1,386.25 was the extent of Ms. Angel's needs. “Reasonable needs” are not just the spouse's actual expenses at the time of dissolution; the trial court may take into account the standard of living maintained by the parties during marriage. In re Marriage of Morris, 588 S.W.2d 39, 45 (Mo.App. W.D.1979); In re Marriage of K.B., 648 S.W.2d 201, 205 (Mo.App. S.D.1983) (stating that [i]n a marriage of lengthy duration where one spouse has foregone career development, the marital standard of living may serve as an important guide in computing the spouse's reasonable needs.”)

In the instant case, Ms. Angel testified to actual expenses in the months prior to the dissolution; this does not necessarily equate to “reasonable needs.” The evidence indicated that Ms. Angel was able to meet these expenses only through an American Express card on which Mr. Angel was making the payments, and then later through cash withdrawals from accounts then held by the parties. Given the amount of marital property and capital amassed through the parties' marriage, the trial court would have been entitled to assess Ms. Angel's reasonable needs at an amount higher than her actual expenses during the pre-dissolution period.

More importantly, the testimony offered in the record on appeal contains omissions. As noted, while Ms. Angel testified that her “total insurance expense” is $391.25, the insurance items cited by Mr. Angel do not total this amount. Further, the testimony failed to account for other obvious expenses such as property taxes. Additionally, the trial court “may allow a reasonable amount above the itemized expenses of the party seeking maintenance to meet unexpected day-to-day expenses which, given their nature, may be reasonable under the circumstances, yet are incapable of specific itemization.” Childers, 26 S.W.3d at 856. The trial court, in its discretion, could have assessed reasonable needs greater than the relatively modest $1,386.25 per month argued by Mr. Angel. Because the exhibits were omitted, we will presume the income and expense statement...

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  • L.R.S. v. C.A.S.
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • August 15, 2017
    ...need not be limited to the spouse's actual expenses at the time of dissolution. Valentine , 400 S.W.3d at 21 ; Angel v. Angel , 356 S.W.3d 357, 362 (Mo. App. W.D. 2011) ; Comninellis , 147 S.W.3d at 106. Rather, the trial court must determine which of the recipient spouse's expenses constit......
  • Joyner v. Joyner
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    ...speculation as to future conditions of the parties. See, e.g., Sullins v. Sullins, 417 S.W.3d 878, 886 (Mo.App.2014) ; Angel v. Angel, 356 S.W.3d 357, 364 (Mo.App.2011).In sum, we conclude that the circuit court erred in its deferred allocation of a portion of the LAGERS pension benefit to ......
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    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • May 23, 2017
    ...were speculative at the time of trial. A maintenance award cannot be based on a speculative future condition. Angel v. Angel , 356 S.W.3d 357, 364 (Mo. App. W.D. 2011). "A future income source should not be considered if the amount of the future income is speculative." Blount v. Blount , 67......
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    • December 31, 2014
    ...Where the record on appeal contains evidentiary omissions, we presume they support the trial court's decision.” Angel v. Angel, 356 S.W.3d 357, 360 n.2 (Mo.App.W.D.2011).1 We now turn to the testimonial evidence as viewed in the light most favorable to the judgment. At the time of trial, Hu......
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