Coffman v. Coffman, WD 70028.

CourtCourt of Appeal of Missouri (US)
Citation300 S.W.3d 267
Docket NumberNo. WD 70028.,WD 70028.
PartiesSandra Ray COFFMAN, Respondent, v. Elvin Cale COFFMAN, Appellant.
Decision Date29 December 2009
300 S.W.3d 267
Sandra Ray COFFMAN, Respondent,
Elvin Cale COFFMAN, Appellant.
No. WD 70028.
Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District.
December 29, 2009.

[300 S.W.3d 268]

David Slaby, for Respondent.

Corey M. Swischer, for Appellant.

Before Division Two: JOSEPH M. ELLIS, Presiding Judge, VICTOR C. HOWARD, Judge and JAMES E. WELSH, Judge.


Elvin Coffman (Husband) appeals the judgment of the trial court awarding maintenance to Sandra Coffman (Wife). He claims that the maintenance award was against the weight of the evidence and that the trial court erred in failing to make findings of fact and conclusions of law requested by him under Rule 73.01(c). The judgment is affirmed.

Factual and Procedural Background1

Husband and Wife were married in 1982 and subsequently resided in Hume, Missouri. Husband worked at General Motors in Kansas City for nearly five years before the parties married. He continued his employment and accrued pension service time at GM until he became disabled and retired early in March 2003.

Wife received her GED in 1983 and has no other formal education or training. She raised the parties' children and worked several part-time jobs during the

300 S.W.3d 269

marriage. She worked as a cashier at Price Chopper, drove a school bus for a year, and worked as a waitress for a short time. She also worked for ten years as an assistant cook at a school and worked as a receptionist at a hospital and a cashier at Country Mart. The highest hourly rate earned by Wife during the marriage was $6.50.

In 2001, Husband began wildly spending money and incurring substantial debt without Wife's knowledge. He purchased at least six new vehicles that were all either repossessed or returned to the dealership. He wrote a bad check for approximately $40,000 to purchase cattle and miscellaneous junk items. He spent approximately $100,000 refurbishing the parties' son's house. Husband quit making the mortgage payments on the marital home, and it was eventually foreclosed on. He sold all of the parties' GM stock and depleted the GM savings account, which at one time had a balance of approximately $100,000. As a result of Husband's behavior, the couple was forced to declare bankruptcy.

The parties separated, and Wife filed a petition for dissolution of marriage in April 2002. The next month, Husband's father, James Coffman, was named Husband's guardian and conservator by order of the probate division of the Bates County Circuit Court. Husband was eventually deemed permanently and totally disabled due to physical (degenerative arthritis) and mental (bipolar) disorders. At the time of trial in July 2007, he was living with his son and receiving disability pension benefits from GM in the amount of $1063.55 per month and Social Security disability benefits of $1944.90 for a total of $3008.45 a month.

A few months after the separation, Wife's parents loaned her money to purchase a seventeen-year-old trailer home in Foster, Missouri. She began working full-time for Peterson Manufacturing Company in Grandview in September 2002. She drives approximately 150 miles a day to and from work. At the time of trial, Wife earned $14.05 an hour. She also received health, dental, and vision insurance from Peterson for $10 a week.

The case was originally tried in November 2004, and the trial court entered its judgment in April 2005 dissolving the parties' marriage, setting aside their nonmarital property, and dividing marital property.2 The trial court awarded Wife one-half of 19/24ths of pension benefits Husband was receiving. Husband appealed to this court claiming that the trial court erred in finding his pension payments from GM were marital and awarding Wife a portion of them. This court agreed, holding that the pension benefits Husband receives up until he turns 65 years old are meant to replace his earnings due to disability and are, therefore, a nonmarital asset; while benefits Husband receives after he reaches 65 years old are meant to serve as deferred compensation and are marital. Coffman v. Coffman, 215 S.W.3d 309, 312 (Mo.App. W.D.2007). The trial court's judgment was, therefore, reversed, and the cause remanded for entry of a judgment properly apportioning the marital and nonmarital aspects of Husband's pension and for reconsideration, if necessary, of maintenance and the division of martial property and debts. Id. at 313.

Following remand and rehearing, the trial court issued its judgment in April 2008. The court set aside to Husband pension payments he receives until he reaches normal retirement age as his separate property and awarded Wife one-half of 19/24ths of the marital portion of the

300 S.W.3d 270

GM retirement benefit. It also awarded Wife $600 per month in maintenance effective August 2007 and $2400 in attorney's fees.

Husband subsequently filed a motion to amend the judgment requesting the court to order restitution from Wife to Husband for pension benefits she erroneously received after the first judgment. The trial court issued an amended judgment in July 2008 finding that restitution in the amount of $7799 is satisfied by the attorney's fees award and by maintenance ordered from August 2007 through March 2008. This appeal by Husband followed.

Standard of Review

A decree of dissolution will be upheld on appeal unless it is not supported by substantial evidence, it is against the weight of the evidence, or it erroneously declares or applies the law. Murphy v. Carron, 536 S.W.2d 30, 32 (Mo. banc 1976); Farris v. Farris, 75 S.W.3d 345, 347 (Mo.App. W.D. 2002). The evidence is viewed in the light most favorable to the decree, and all contrary evidence is disregarded. Henning v. Henning, 72 S.W.3d 241, 245 (Mo.App. W.D.2002). "The party challenging the dissolution judgment has the burden of demonstrating error." Id.

A trial court has broad discretion in determining whether to award maintenance, and its decision will not be reversed absent an abuse of discretion. Farris, 75 S.W.3d at 347. A trial court abuses its discretion if its decision is against the logic of the circumstances and so arbitrary and unreasonable as to shock one's sense of justice. Lueckenotte v. Lueckenotte, 34 S.W.3d 387, 399 (Mo. banc 2001).


In his first point on appeal, Husband claims that the maintenance award to Wife was against the weight of the evidence because (1) the evidence did not support a finding that Wife could not meet her own reasonable needs through appropriate employment and (2) the evidence showed that Husband did not have sufficient income to pay a maintenance award.

A trial court may award maintenance to a spouse if it finds that the spouse: (1) lacks sufficient property, including marital property apportioned to her, to provide for her reasonable needs; and (2) is unable to support herself through appropriate employment. § 452.335.1, RSMo 2000; Donovan v. Donovan, 191 S.W.3d 702, 705 (Mo.App. W.D. 2006). "The spouse seeking maintenance has the burden of establishing these threshold requirements." Donovan, 191 S.W.3d at 705. In determining whether to award maintenance, the trial court first determines the reasonable needs of the spouse seeking maintenance and then decides whether that spouse is able to meet those needs through the use of property or appropriate employment. Comninellis v. Comninellis, 147 S.W.3d 102, 106 (Mo.App. W.D.2004). "`Reasonable needs' is the standard for determining the expenses properly allowable to a spouse seeking maintenance." Id.

Once the trial court determines that maintenance is warranted, it must consider the following factors in determining the amount and duration of maintenance:

(1) The financial resources of the party seeking maintenance, including martial property apportioned to him, and his ability to meet his needs...

To continue reading

Request your trial
10 cases
  • Pickering v. Pickering, WD 71489.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • July 6, 2010
    ...evidence is viewed in the light most favorable to the dissolution decree, and all contrary evidence is disregarded." Coffman v. Coffman, 300 S.W.3d 267, 270 (Mo.App. Legal Analysis Husband argues thirteen points on appeal. For the sake of brevity and convenience, we group them into eight ca......
  • Sharrai v. Sharrai, WD 71279.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • October 19, 2010
    ...omitted). “The party challenging the dissolution judgment has the burden of demonstrating error.” 322 S.W.3d 644 Coffman v. Coffman, 300 S.W.3d 267, 270 (Mo.App. W.D.2009) (internal quotation omitted). In his first point, Husband claims that the maintenance award to Wife was not supported b......
  • Saturn of Tiffany Springs v. Mcdaris, WD 72509.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • February 22, 2011
    ...McDonald (In re Carl McDonald Revocable Trust dated Oct. 1, 1979), 942 S.W.2d 926, 932 (Mo.App. S.D.1997); see also Coffman v. Coffman, 300 S.W.3d 267, 271 n. 3 (Mo.App. W.D.2009). We presume, therefore, that McDaris's late filed answer and the transcript of the April 21, 2010 hearing, whic......
  • Young v. Pitts, s. WD 71794
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • February 15, 2011
    ...Father's appeal of the award of attorney's fees. 4. We view the facts in the light most favorable to the judgment. Coffman v. Coffman, 300 S.W.3d 267, 270 (Mo.App. W.D.2009). 5. After a report of abuse has been found to have been substantiated, an accused may seek an administrative appeal b......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT