In re Marriage of Bell, No. 97-498.

Docket NºNo. 97-498.
Citation2000 MT 88, 998 P.2d 1163
Case DateApril 11, 2000
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Montana

998 P.2d 1163
2000 MT 88

In re the MARRIAGE OF John E. BELL, Petitioner and Respondent, and
Jeanne M. Bell n/k/a Jeanne M. Nelson, Respondent, and
Sharon L. Bell, Intervenor and Appellant

No. 97-498.

Supreme Court of Montana.

Submitted on Briefs October 21, 1999.

Decided April 11, 2000.


998 P.2d 1164
Eric Rasmusson, Boulder, Montana, For Appellant

Jack H. Morris, Jardine & Morris, Whitehall, Montana, For Respondent.

Justice WILLIAM E. HUNT, Sr. delivered the Opinion of the Court.

¶ 1 Appellant Sharon L. Bell, (Sharon) appeals from the Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Order of the Fifth Judicial District Court, Jefferson County, dismissing her Motion to Intervene and issuing a Court Deed naming Sharon as the grantor with John E. Bell (John) and Jeanne M. Bell n/k/a Jeanne M. Nelson (Jeanne) as grantees to hold certain real property as tenants in common. We affirm.

¶ 2 Sharon raises the following issues on appeal:

I Did the District Court err by setting aside the amended decree of dissolution?
II Did the District Court err by finding that the property at issue is included in the marital estate?
III Was the District Court's dismissal of Sharon's status as an intervenor error constituting a denial of her constitutional rights?

STATEMENT OF FACTS

¶ 3 On May 18, 1981, John and Jeanne purchased a piece of real property located in Jefferson County consisting of a house and out buildings on approximately 102 acres (the property). On May 17, 1983, the couple conveyed the property to John's mother, Sharon. On the same day, Sharon conveyed the property back to John and Jeanne. However, the Warranty Deed conveying the property from John and Jeanne to Sharon was not recorded until May 20, 1984. John filed for bankruptcy on July 27, 1984, and his debts were discharged by final decree on July 29, 1985. John did not record the Warranty Deed conveying the property from Sharon back to himself and Jeanne until November 17, 1987.

¶ 4 By May of 1990, John and Jeanne owed back taxes of approximately $6,000 on the property and it was in jeopardy of being sold at a tax sale. John and Jeanne were unable to obtain a loan due to their previous bankruptcy and arranged with Sharon to once again transfer the property into her name. Sharon was to then take out a loan to pay the taxes using the property as collateral. A Warranty Deed was executed by John and Jeanne on May 11, 1990, conveying the property to Sharon. The deed was recorded on May 14, 1990. Sharon borrowed $7,000 from a bank in Butte using the property as collateral and paid off the back taxes on the property.

¶ 5 On June 10, 1992, John and Jeanne filed, as co-petitioners, their verified Joint Petition for Dissolution. John testified at the hearing on the petition, but Jeanne was not in attendance. The Court granted the relief sought in the co-petition and entered

998 P.2d 1165
its Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Decree of Dissolution. The District Court amended its findings and conclusions on June 26, 1992

¶ 6 On August 4, 1994, Jeanne filed her Motion to set aside the final judgment pursuant to § 40-4-135, MCA, and for an order "equitably distributing the assets of the marital estate." John filed his Petition to Modify Final Decree and his opposition to Jeanne's motion. The District Court heard oral argument on August 24, 1994, and again on August 3, 1995. On October 26, 1995, the court issued Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and an Order determining that the June 26, 1992 Amended Decree of Dissolution was vacated and set aside as far as it pertained to the real property at issue. The District Court ordered the May 11, 1990 deed from John and Jeanne as grantors to Sharon as grantee "void and of no further force and effect, subject only to right of the grantee, Sharon, to intervene ... to assert her right, if any, to said property."

¶ 7 On January 25, 1996, Sharon applied to intervene in this action and the District Court granted her application on January 29, 1996. After another hearing on Jeanne's motion to set aside the decree of dissolution, on March 31, 1997, the District Court issued supplemental findings and an Order stating that its October 26, 1995 Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Order "in all respects conforms with the evidence of fraud perpetuated upon the Court to deny Jeanne her interest in the marital real property." The Court then dismissed Sharon's Motion to Intervene and issued a Court Deed naming Sharon as the grantor and John and Jeanne as grantees to hold the property as tenants in common. Sharon now appeals from that order.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

¶ 8 We review a district court's findings of fact to determine whether they are clearly erroneous. State v. Wooster, 1999 MT 22, ¶ 2, 293 Mont. 195, ¶ 2, 974 P.2d 640, ¶ 2 (citing Interstate Production Credit v. DeSaye (1991), 250 Mont. 320, 323, 820 P.2d 1285, 1287). We review a district court's conclusions of law to determine whether the interpretation is correct. Genex Pipeline L.L.C. v. Fly Creek Angus, Inc., 1998 MT 334, ¶ 22, 292 Mont. 300, ¶ 22, 971 P.2d 781, ¶ 22 (citing Carbon County v. Union Reserve Coal Co. (1995), 271 Mont. 459, 469, 898 P.2d 680, 686.)

¶ 9 I Whether the District Court erred by setting
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4 practice notes
  • BASTON v. BASTON, No. DA 10-0047.
    • United States
    • Montana United States State Supreme Court of Montana
    • September 28, 2010
    ...procedural background of this case, we conclude that Baston's cross-appeal was timely under M.R. Civ. P. 77(d). See In re Marriage of Bell, 2000 MT 88, ¶ 14, 299 Mont. 219, 998 P.2d 1163. ¶ 15 For future reference, we note the District Court applied the incorrect standard of proof at trial ......
  • In re Turville, Bankruptcy No. 05-62447-13.
    • United States
    • United States Bankruptcy Courts. Ninth Circuit. U.S. Bankruptcy Court — District of Montana
    • March 9, 2007
    ...at the time it recorded the deed of trust. The facts in this case are distinguishable from the facts in In re the Marriage of Bell, 2000 MT 88,299 Mont. 219,998 P.2d 1163 (2000). In Bell, husband and wife conveyed property to husband's mother, for no value, and on the same day she reconveye......
  • In re the Marriage of Brian Alexander, No. DA 10–0300.
    • United States
    • Montana United States State Supreme Court of Montana
    • January 4, 2011
    ...were issued. However, since no notice of entry of judgment was ever filed in this case, the appeal is timely. In re Marriage of Bell, 2000 MT 88, ¶ 14, 299 Mont. 219, 998 P.2d 1163; [359 Mont. 92] Horton v. Horton, 2007 MT 181, ¶ 10, 338 Mont. 236, 165 P.3d 1076. ¶ 13 Did the District Court......
  • Timis v. Young, No. 00-232.
    • United States
    • Montana United States State Supreme Court of Montana
    • April 18, 2001
    ...Court denied the motion. ¶ 10 On appeal, the Timises abandon their old theories for a new one. Citing our recent decision in In re Bell, 2000 MT 88, 299 Mont. 219, 998 P.2d 1163, they argue that the sixty-day period for ruling on their motion to set aside never began to run. In Bell, we hel......
4 cases
  • BASTON v. BASTON, No. DA 10-0047.
    • United States
    • Montana United States State Supreme Court of Montana
    • September 28, 2010
    ...procedural background of this case, we conclude that Baston's cross-appeal was timely under M.R. Civ. P. 77(d). See In re Marriage of Bell, 2000 MT 88, ¶ 14, 299 Mont. 219, 998 P.2d 1163. ¶ 15 For future reference, we note the District Court applied the incorrect standard of proof at trial ......
  • In re Turville, Bankruptcy No. 05-62447-13.
    • United States
    • United States Bankruptcy Courts. Ninth Circuit. U.S. Bankruptcy Court — District of Montana
    • March 9, 2007
    ...at the time it recorded the deed of trust. The facts in this case are distinguishable from the facts in In re the Marriage of Bell, 2000 MT 88,299 Mont. 219,998 P.2d 1163 (2000). In Bell, husband and wife conveyed property to husband's mother, for no value, and on the same day she reconveye......
  • In re the Marriage of Brian Alexander, No. DA 10–0300.
    • United States
    • Montana United States State Supreme Court of Montana
    • January 4, 2011
    ...were issued. However, since no notice of entry of judgment was ever filed in this case, the appeal is timely. In re Marriage of Bell, 2000 MT 88, ¶ 14, 299 Mont. 219, 998 P.2d 1163; [359 Mont. 92] Horton v. Horton, 2007 MT 181, ¶ 10, 338 Mont. 236, 165 P.3d 1076. ¶ 13 Did the District Court......
  • Timis v. Young, No. 00-232.
    • United States
    • Montana United States State Supreme Court of Montana
    • April 18, 2001
    ...Court denied the motion. ¶ 10 On appeal, the Timises abandon their old theories for a new one. Citing our recent decision in In re Bell, 2000 MT 88, 299 Mont. 219, 998 P.2d 1163, they argue that the sixty-day period for ruling on their motion to set aside never began to run. In Bell, we hel......

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