Blanchard v. Blanchard (In re Blanchard)

Decision Date04 December 2020
Docket NumberNo. SD 36521,SD 36521
Parties IN RE the MARRIAGE OF: Karen BLANCHARD and Lester Blanchard, Karen Blanchard, Petitioner-Appellant, v. Lester Blanchard, Respondent-Respondent.
CourtMissouri Court of Appeals

Appellant's Attorney: Tina Longnecker, of Joplin, Missouri.

Respondent's Attorneys: Bryan C. Breckenridge, of Nevada, MO and Richard L. Schnake, of Springfield, MO.

WILLIAM W. FRANCIS, JR., J.

Karen Blanchard ("Wife") appeals from the trial court's "Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage" in three points relied on. Wife's brief materially fails to comply with Rule 84.041 and the governing principle of appellate review in the following respects: (1) Wife fails to present a fair and concise statement of facts relevant to the issues presented; (2) Wife's points relied on are not presented in accord with Rule 84.04(d)’s mandatory template, are multifarious, and Wife's Points II and III fail to allege prejudice (as required in this context); (3) Wife's arguments are not presented in accord with the trial court's findings and credibility determinations, and fail to accommodate the prejudice requirement applicable to this context; and (4) Wife fails to provide the applicable preservation status for any of her claims, and in some instances, presents argument inconsistent with her position and personal testimony at trial.2 Wife's appeal is accordingly dismissed.

Facts and Procedural Background

Wife and Lester Blanchard ("Husband") were married on August 9, 1980, and four children were born of the marriage.3 During the marriage, Husband farmed and operated a hauling business. Wife worked as a registered nurse at several local hospitals. She thereafter took a job as a traveling nurse (primarily in California) whereby she was absent from the home for multiple years.

Wife filed her "Petition for Dissolution of Marriage" on February 6, 2017, and Husband filed responsive pleadings in turn.

A bench trial occurred on June 20, 2019. On July 9, 2019, the trial court entered its Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage. The trial court divided the marital property, non-marital property and debts in accordance with Husband's "Statement of Marital and Non-Marital Assets and Debts." As relevant here, the trial court made the following specific findings:

(4) Husband's testimony that Wife was surly and would yell at him and the kids regularly does not rise to the level of misconduct, in that those actions did not specifically burden Husband financially. That said, Wife's extended stints as a traveling nurse, particularly multiple years in California, left Husband to handle the marital financial burdens. Wife left Husband taking care of the marital farm and the daily financial requirements, while she lived a completely separate life and provided little to no contribution to the marital obligations.
Furthermore, the Court finds the testimony of the parties’ daughter very disconcerting, and an indication of Wife's misconduct as it pertains to insuring she was happy, regardless of marital/familial obligations. The parties’ daughter, while in the military, sent money she received as child support to Wife with the understanding that Wife would hold it in a bank for the daughter's son. Daughter's testimony was that she sent $500 per month back to her mother for a period of two years (approximately $12,000). When daughter returned from her military service, she approached Wife about the money and was informed by Wife that "the bank stole it." The Court does not believe that the bank stole the money, but instead, that Wife took her own grandson's funds for her own personal use.
It is clear to the Court that Wife's philosophy during the marriage was her financial comfort, regardless of whether or not she was contributing to the marital obligations or whether she was actually entitled to use funds under her control.
....
[A]fter adjusting the numbers on [Wife]’s exhibit 4 for the loans awarded to Wife ($120,000) and removing the Wife's value of her non-marital asset ($13,000) that leaves Husband $1,116,462 in marital assets and Wife with $156,656. Without considering the factors of [section] 452.330, each party would in theory be entitled to $636,559, with Husband needing to make an equalization payment to Wife in the amount of $479,903. However, when factoring in considerations of [section] 452.330, particularly the Wife's non-marital real property, the equalization potential from Husband to Wife drops to $311,903. The additional factors of Husband's contributions to the marital obligations during periods of separation and Wife's conduct, the Court finds that further deviation from that value is warranted.... Husband shall pay to wife an equalization payment of $275,000.

On July 31, 2019, Wife filed a "Motion for Reconsideration or in the Alternative, Motion for New Trial." In paragraph 10 of the motion, Wife asserted, in relevant part, that:

b). The Trial Court assigns Wife the $120,000 listed by both parties as loans to the parties’ children; yet, Wife did not participate in the lending of the money or the terms of repayment thereof; rather, the evidence was that but for $30,000 loaned to one of the sons for a land purchase, the remaining marital funds ($90,000) were loaned post-separation by Husband to daughter and two of their three sons. Wife was not privy to these transactions.
c). The Trial Court assigns the loan value to Wife as payable by the parties’ children without consideration that Wife is estranged from her daughter and one of her three sons – thus putting her in a position of either suing her children to collect said sums, inevitably causing further alienation, or deeming the sums "non-collectible". The finding by the Trial Court is punitive in nature.
d). The Trial Court has stated that Wife was not contributing substantially to the marital obligations during her work as a traveling nurse ...; there was no evidence to support this finding.... There was nothing in the record to support the findings that Wife left Husband to handle the "marital financial burden" or that she "lived a completely separate life and provided little to no contribution to the marital obligations."
....
g). The Trial Court adjusted the cash equalization due Wife by subtracting the Wife's value of her non-marital asset ($13,000) and then further discounting said sums by subtracting Wife's inheritance (land value) from the monies otherwise due to her. This was contrary to the evidence.... There was no evidence at trial to establish the value of the real estate at the time that it was received by Wife and therefore, the Court was free to assign whatever value it felt appropriate. The Court adopted Husband's value. That stated, the value of the real estate should not have had a material impact on the overall division of the marital property; furthermore, it is not income producing so why the Trial Court elected a dollar for dollar reduction to Wife's equalization is not supported by case law or the evidence presented at the time of hearing.

After hearing argument, the trial court denied Wife's motion on December 20, 2019. This appeal followed.

Wife challenges the trial court's judgment in three points relied on:

POINT RELIED ON – I
THE TRIAL COURT ABUSED ITS DISCRETION IN DIVIDING THE MARITAL PROPERTY BECAUSE IT INCLUDED THE VALUE OF WIFE'S NONMARITAL REAL ESTATE (INHERITANCE) IN THE DIVISION OF THE MARITAL PROPERTY AND ASSIGNING TO WIFE LOANS MADE BY HUSBAND TO THE PARTIES’ CHILDREN, CONTRARY TO THE EVIDENCE AND THEREFORE THE AGGREGRATE [sic] INCLUSION THEREOF MATERIALLY IMPACTED THE OVERALL DISTRIBUTION OF THE MARITAL PROPERTY.
POINT RELIED ON - II
THE TRIAL COURT THOUGH REQUIRED TO CONSIDER A PARTY'S CONDUCT DURING THE MARRIAGE IN DIVIDING MARITAL PROPERTY ABUSED ITS DISCRETION IN ITS DISPOSITION WHEN IT PLACED AN INORDINATE FOCUS UPON WIFE'S EMPLOYMENT AS A TRAVELING NURSE AND ALLEDGED [sic] DISREGARD OF MARITAL/FAMIAL [sic] OBLIGATIONS TO SUPPORT A FURTHER REDUCTION IN THE
AWARD OF CASH EQUALIZATION IN THAT THERE WAS NO EVIDENCE THAT SAID ACTS PLACED ADDITIONAL BURDENS ON HUSBAND SUCH THAT HE MUST ASSUME A GREATER SHARE OF THE PARTNERSHIP LOAD.
POINT RELIED ON - POINT III
THE TRIAL COURT'S FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSION OF LAW IS NOT SUPPORTED BY SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE AND IS AGAINST THE WEIGHT OF THE EVIDENCE PURSUANT TO MO. REV. STAT. § 452.300, IN THAT IT FAILS TO REFLECT THE CONCEPT OF MARRIAGE AS A SHARED ENTERPRISE SIMILAR TO A PARTNERSHIP WITH EACH MAKING HIS OR HER OWN CONTRIBUTION TO THE MARRIAGE THROUGH THEIR OWN ACTS OR DEEDS.
Governing Principles of Review and Rule 84.04

In reviewing the judgment from a bench-tried case, we affirm unless appellant successfully demonstrates that the judgment: (1) is not supported by substantial evidence, (2) is against the weight of the evidence, or (3) erroneously declares or applies the law. Archdekin v. Archdekin , 562 S.W.3d 298, 304 (Mo. banc 2018) ; see Murphy v. Carron , 536 S.W.2d 30, 32 (Mo. banc 1976).

Only errors materially affecting the merits of the action, or prejudicial errors, require reversal. The trial court has broad discretion in identifying, valuing, and dividing marital property. In addition, appellate courts will interfere in marital property divisions only where the division is so unduly favorable to one party that it constitutes an abuse of discretion. This Court presumes the property division was correct, and the appellant bears the burden of overcoming the presumption.
In reviewing the circuit court's judgment, this Court accepts as true the facts and all reasonable inferences therefrom in the light most favorable to the judgment. This Court disregards all evidence and inferences to the contrary. This Court does not review credibility determinations or resolutions of conflicting evidence.

Lollar v. Lollar , 609 S.W.3d 41, 46 (Mo. banc 2020) (internal quotations and citations omitted) (internal footnote omitted).

Our review, however, depends on Wife's presentation of...

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1 cases
  • Fisher v. Slinger
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • October 26, 2021
    ...of these arguments is separate and distinct from the other and must be asserted in separate points on appeal. In re Marriage of Blanchard , 613 S.W.3d 879, 886 (Mo. App. 2020). Multifarious points on appeal preserve nothing for appellate review and are grounds for dismissal. Id. Nevertheles......

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