Marriage of Cochran, In re, 17938

Decision Date04 November 1992
Docket NumberNo. 17938,17938
Citation840 S.W.2d 876
PartiesIn re the MARRIAGE OF Jackie A. COCHRAN and Samuel E. Cochran. Jackie A. COCHRAN, Respondent, v. Samuel E. COCHRAN, Appellant.
CourtMissouri Court of Appeals

Loren R. Honecker, Sherwood, Honecker & Bender, Springfield, for appellant.

Todd F. Thorn, West Plains, for respondent.

CROW, Presiding Judge.

By a decree filed November 26, 1991, the trial court dissolved the eleven-year marriage of Jackie A. Cochran and Samuel E. Cochran. Sam 1 appeals, asserting the trial court erred in (1) awarding Jackie a $15,040 lien on real estate set apart to him as his nonmarital property, and (2) denying his prayer for maintenance.

Because the trial court erroneously classified some nonmarital property as marital and some marital property as nonmarital, we reverse the decree in part and remand for redetermination of certain issues, spelled out infra.

We begin with the real estate.

In 1978--before the parties' 1980 marriage--Sam purchased a parcel of land referred to by the parties as an 18-acre tract. The price was $13,000. Sam testified, without contradiction by Jackie, that he paid $2,000 "down," leaving a "balance" of $11,000. At the time of the transaction, Sam and Jackie were living together in a mobile home owned by Sam, situated on a three-acre tract owned by him.

In 1979, the parties moved the mobile home from the three-acre tract to the 18-acre tract and began residing there.

Jackie testified the 18-acre tract was "paid on" after the marriage. Specifically, she avowed some "hog money" was used for such purpose, but she did not indicate how much. Additionally, according to Jackie, the three-acre tract was sold and the proceeds were applied to the balance on the 18-acre tract.

Sam testified he sold the three-acre tract for $6,500, using all the proceeds to reduce the debt on the 18-acre tract. He added that he sold some hogs he owned individually for $1,500, applying those proceeds against the debt on the 18-acre tract. According to Sam, the 18-acre tract was paid off by 1982. He swore only $1,200 was paid on it "after the marriage from marital funds."

Improvements were placed on the 18-acre tract after the marriage. Three are listed in the ensuing three paragraphs.

The pole barn. Jackie testified it cost about $6,000; Sam testified it cost $4,700.

The metal shed. We find no testimony by Jackie about its cost. 2 Sam estimated it cost $600.

The storm cellar and gazebo. Jackie recalled the aggregate cost of these items was $3,000. As we comprehend her testimony, the gazebo was constructed atop the storm cellar. Sam avowed the storm cellar cost about $1,800. It is unclear whether he included the cost of the gazebo in that figure.

An appraiser, testifying as Jackie's witness, placed a combined fair market value of $8,566 on the pole barn, metal shed, and storm cellar and gazebo.

Jackie testified, and Sam conceded, that after the marriage the parties planted flowers and trees on the 18-acre tract and re-fenced part of it. Sam testified all the "marital improvements" on the 18-acre tract were "worth" $8,690.

Jackie identified other improvements to the 18-acre tract: installation of a well and pump costing $1,670, construction of one pond and enlargement of another. However, Sam testified these improvements were completed before the marriage.

Jackie's appraiser testified the 18-acre tract--excluding the pole barn, metal shed, and storm cellar and gazebo (and, inferably, also excluding the mobile home situated on the tract)--has a fair market value of $20,200.

Sam testified the value of the 18-acre tract without the "marital improvements" is $13,310. When he adds the $8,690 worth of marital improvements, the total value of the tract, he says, is $22,000.

During the marriage, the parties bought a two-acre tract that was "mostly timberland" for $4,000. After the separation, Sam cut and sold all the large timber. Jackie and Sam each valued this tract at $4,000. However, Jackie's appraiser valued it at $6,622, despite the absence of the timber.

The mobile home in which the parties lived before the separation is also involved in the equation. Jackie conceded Sam bought it before the marriage and "pretty well had it paid off" when the nuptials occurred. Sam swore the mobile home was fully paid for before the marriage. Both parties assigned the mobile home a present value of $4,500.

The decree awarded Sam sundry items of marital property. Included among them was the mobile home. As explained in the preceding paragraph, this asset is Sam's separate property, not marital property.

The decree declared, "The real estate is non-marital property." This declaration is obviously incorrect as to the two-acre tract which, as we have seen, was bought during the marriage.

The decree awarded Sam all the real estate. However, the trial court found Jackie had expended time and labor in improving the real estate. In an effort "to equitably divide the values of the marital personal property and to account for the increased value in the real estate due to the efforts of [Jackie]," the trial court awarded Jackie a lien on the real estate 3 in the amount of $15,040. The decree provided "[E]xecution is stayed for seven hundred and twenty four days from date of this judgment."

Sam's first point relied on avers the trial court erred in awarding Jackie a "money judgment" for $15,040 in that it "was based upon an erroneous property division." Sam correctly points out the erroneous classification of the mobile home as marital property and the erroneous classification of the two-acre tract as nonmarital property.

Sam also maintains the trial court "purported to distribute nonexistent property." This contention concerns an award to Sam (as marital property) of a tractor, bush hog, dirt plow, auger, disc, post driver and front end loader. Sam directs us to his testimony that he sold these items to pay medical bills. He asserts, "The award of this phantom property to Sam, coupled with the trial court's refusal to credit him with the medical expenses paid through its liquidation, is patently unfair."

The first flaw in the "phantom property" complaint is that the trial court was not compelled to believe Sam's testimony that the items had been sold. In this judge-tried case, credibility of the witnesses and the weight to be given their testimony was a matter for the trial court, which was free to believe none, part or all of the testimony of any witness. Herbert v. Harl, 757 S.W.2d 585, 587 (Mo. banc 1988).

The second flaw is that nothing in the record demonstrates the trial court failed to "credit" Sam with the medical expenses he allegedly paid with the sale proceeds. The trial court made no findings of fact or conclusions of law, none having been requested. The trial court assigned no values to any of the items disposed of in the decree, hence we cannot know what aggregate value the trial court placed on the assets awarded each party as marital property and nonmarital property. That being so, even if one assumes the trial court believed Sam sold the "phantom property" and applied the proceeds to medical bills, the record does not compel a finding that the trial court failed to take this into account in the property division.

The "phantom property" argument is without merit.

Another of Sam's complaints about the division of property involves the following items awarded him as marital property: chain saw, work bench, bit sharpener and tool box with chest. Sam avers Jackie's interrogatory answers demonstrate these items were gifts from her to him, thus making them his non-marital property. Our examination of the interrogatory answers confirms this. According to those answers, the aggregate value of these items is $605.

Sam concedes a trial court may order one spouse to pay cash to the other in a dissolution proceeding to achieve a proper division of marital property without compelling liquidation of assets. However, argues Sam, requiring him to pay Jackie $15,040 within two years...

To continue reading

Request your trial
3 cases
  • Stratman v. Stratman, WD
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • 30 Junio 1997
    ... ... Stratman (Husband) appeals from the trial court's judgment dissolving his marriage to Judy M. Stratman (Wife). Husband contends that the trial court erred by: (1) including as ... He cites In re Marriage of Cochran, 840 S.W.2d 876, 879-80 (Mo.App.1992), for the principle that a gift from one spouse to the other ... ...
  • Willbanks v. Willbanks, 28117.
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • 24 Abril 2008
    ... ... Willbanks (husband) and wife married January 27, 1965. Four children were born of the marriage. Three were living at the time of trial. They are emancipated ...         Wife initiated ... In re Marriage of Cochran, 840 S.W.2d 876, 880 (Mo.App. S.D.1992) ...         In re Marriage of Irions, 988 S.W.2d ... ...
  • Marriage of Irions, In re, 21966
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • 25 Febrero 1999
    ...apportioned to that party, to meet his or her reasonable needs before an award of maintenance may be ordered. In re Marriage of Cochran, 840 S.W.2d 876, 880 (Mo.App. S.D.1992). We do not know what marital property may be apportioned to Wife upon remand, and therefore, cannot determine her e......

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