Dardick v. Dardick

Citation670 S.W.2d 865,51 A.L.R.4th 1
Decision Date15 May 1984
Docket NumberNo. 65348,65348
PartiesMinna June DARDICK, Respondent, v. Leon M. DARDICK, Appellant.
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Missouri

Jerome F. Raskas, David A. Smith, St. Louis, William D. Kimme, Isidore I. Lamke, Washington, for appellant.

Theodore S. Schechter, Clayton, William W. Eckelkamp, Washington, for respondent.

WELLIVER, Justice.

This is an appeal from a decree of dissolution. Appellant contends the trial court erred in failing to ascribe values to the items of marital property awarded to the parties; in awarding respondent an unjust portion of the marital property; and in awarding respondent $3,000 per month in maintenance and approximately $11,000 in attorney's fees and costs. The Court of Appeals, Eastern District, affirmed with one judge dissenting. The dissenting judge transferred the cause to this Court to resolve a conflict between the districts of the court of appeals on the question of whether, in the absence of a request for findings pursuant to Rule 73.01(a)(2), a trial judge must assign specific values to all property awarded in a dissolution decree when such values are in dispute. We affirm.

Appellant filed a petition for dissolution of marriage in response to respondent's suit for separate maintenance. During the parties twenty-five year marriage, they accumulated considerable assets. At the dissolution hearing, the parties and their expert witnesses testified as to the value of certain items of property. At the end of the hearing, respondent made a general request for findings of fact and conclusions of law. The parties submitted to the court proposed decrees that designated all property as either marital or separate property, ascribed a value to the property, and assigned the property to one of the parties.

The trial court, having found the marriage irretrievably broken, issued a decree substantially without specific findings showing the value of the parties' various assets. The decree set aside to respondent certain items as her separate property, several of which appellant had claimed as his separate property. The evidence in the record would have permitted the trial court to value these articles at $9,660, according to respondent's figures, or $23,475, according to appellant's estimates. Each of the parties also received $6,135 in cash as separate property, pursuant to a stipulation.

The trial court divided the marital property as shown below. The figures represent each party's estimation of the item's value, as reflected by the evidence in the record.

                                      Property Awarded to Respondent
                                              Respondent's Estimated  Appellant's Estimated
                                                      Value                   Value
                Residence                            $125,000               $150,000
                Household Goods (Residence)            11,770                 37,480
                Various Shares of stock                56,954                 56,954
                Bank Account                               15                     15
                Various Life Ins. Policies             13,279                 12,479
                Automobile                              1,075                  1,075
                                              ----------------------  ---------------------
                                                     $208,093               $258,003
                                       Property Awarded to Appellant
                                              Respondent's Estimated  Appellant's Estimated
                                                      Value                   Value
                Interest in Farm                      $54,000                $35,400
                Household Goods (Apartment)             6,125                  3,115
                Bank Account                           1,629.50                1,629.50
                IRA                                     6,047                  6,047
                Stock                                  49,168                 49,168
                Employee's Stock & Ownership
                 Plan                            no present value       no present value
                Employee's Compensation
                 Construction Agreement          no present value      no value specified
                Great West Group Life Ins.        no cash value        no value specified
                                              ----------------------  ---------------------
                                                   $116,969.50             $95,359.50

Appellant also was ordered to pay miscellaneous bills and loans totalling $2,550. Respondent was ordered to repay a $5,000 loan. Finally, the court ordered appellant to pay $10,892.50 in respondent's attorneys fees and costs and $3,000 per month to respondent as maintenance.


Appellant first contends the trial court erred in failing to provide the "findings of fact and conclusions of law" respondent had requested. We find no merit in this contention for the reason given by Judge Welborn in Snider v. Snider, 570 S.W.2d 770 (Mo.App.1978), when confronted with this precise issue:

The difficulty with this position is that appellant overlooks the inadequacy, under the existing rule, of the request of respondent's counsel. Formerly Rule 73.01 required the trial court, upon request, to make "findings on any of the principal controverted fact issues." Presently Rule 73.01 requires specific factual findings only upon "such controverted fact issues as have been specified by counsel." Counsel for respondent in his motion stated no specific issues upon which findings were requested. If appellant wished the court to make findings on specific issues, it was his duty, in view of the inadequacy of the request of respondent's counsel, to specify the issues upon which findings were sought. Having failed to do so, appellant is in no position to assert error.

Id. at 774-75. Appellant's first point is denied.


Appellant next contends that, irrespective of whether findings properly had been requested, § 452.330.1 of the Dissolution of Marriage Act requires findings of fact regarding the value of the marital property awarded in the decree. It is undisputed that § 452.330.1 does not by its express terms require a trial court to delineate in the record the value of all marital property. The statute provides only that the trial court "shall divide the marital property in such proportions as the court deems just after considering all relevant factors including: ... (2) the value of the property set apart to each spouse." Appellant argues that such findings are necessary in order to permit appellate review of the fairness of the property distribution. He claims that the dissolution decree issued below is incomplete and defective because it fails to ascribe values to significant items of marital property, the value of which was disputed at trial.

Appellant finds support for his position in decisions rendered by the Western and Southern Districts. The courts in these districts appear to require findings as to the value of significant items of marital property awarded unless the evidence of the value of such assets is substantially undisputed. See Cavallaro v. Cavallaro, 620 S.W.2d 420, 421 (Mo.App.1981); Marks v. Marks, 618 S.W.2d 249, 251 (Mo.App.1981); Merritt v. Merritt, 616 S.W.2d 585, 587 (Mo.App.1981); Fastnacht v. Fastnacht, 616 S.W.2d 98, 101-02 (Mo.App.1981); Wansing v. Wansing, 612 S.W.2d 55, 56 (Mo.App.1981); Glascock v. Glascock, 607 S.W.2d 834, 835 (Mo.App.1980), after remand, 620 S.W.2d 413, 419 (1981); Wilhoit v. Wilhoit, 599 S.W.2d 74, 78-79 (Mo.App.1980); Hopkins v. Hopkins, 597 S.W.2d 702, 709 (Mo.App.1980); Fields v. Fields, 584 S.W.2d 163, 167 (Mo.App.1979). The rationale for this rule can be summarized as follows: Section 452.330.1 requires the trial court to divide marital property in a just manner. In order to assess the fairness of a property distribution, it is necessary to aggregate the value of individual items of marital property. When the values of such items are disputed, it is impossible for an appellate court to reach an informed conclusion as to the fairness of the property distribution without detailed findings. See Hopkins v. Hopkins, supra, at 709.

The Eastern District, in contrast, consistently has held that absent a request for findings under Rule 73.01(a)(2) the trial court is not required to assign a value to each item on the property inventory. See, e.g., Flach v. Flach, 645 S.W.2d 718, 720 (Mo.App.1982); Wachter v. Wachter, 645 S.W.2d 111, 113 (Mo.App.1982); In re Marriage of Meecey, 603 S.W.2d 62, 63 (Mo.App.1980); Waitsman v. Waitsman, 599 S.W.2d 42, 43 (Mo.App.1980). When there are no detailed findings of facts, the Eastern District assumes the facts on appeal as having been found in accordance with the judgment. See Walker v. Walker, 631 S.W.2d 68, 71 (Mo.App.1982); Kaczmarczyk v. Kaczmarczyk, 593 S.W.2d 252, 253 (Mo.App.1980).

We generally do not require a trial court sitting as a fact finder to make specific findings on each disputed matter unless requested to do so. Rule 73.01(a)(2) provides that "[a]ll fact issues upon which no specific findings are made shall be considered as having been found in accordance with the result reached." Appellant argues that this rule has no place in the present context, contending that it is impossible to determine the value of an item "in accordance with the result reached" when conflicting evidence of its worth has been presented. See also Hopkins v. Hopkins, supra, at 709.

Appellant's argument is not without some merit, but we are not persuaded that we should read the rule he urges into the unambiguous language of § 452.330.1. We believe such a rule is unnecessary. When parties desire specific findings as to the value of items of marital property in order to prepare a complete record for appeal, such findings may be obtained by means of a proper request pursuant to Rule 73.01(a)(2). We are not inclined to impose on trial courts the onerous burden of making detailed findings in the multitude of dissolution cases filling our courts w...

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