Owen v. Owen

Citation351 N.W.2d 139
Decision Date17 February 1984
Docket NumberNo. 14278,14278
PartiesHarry L. OWEN, Plaintiff and Appellee, v. Marilyn OWEN, Defendant and Appellant. . Considered on Briefs
CourtSupreme Court of South Dakota

Randy S. Bingner, Clark, for plaintiff and appellee.

T.F. Martin of McCann, Martin & Mickelson, Brookings, for defendant and appellant.

MORGAN, Justice.

This appeal arises from the property division set out in the Owens' divorce decree. The wife filed a notice of appeal. We affirm.

At the time of the divorce Harry L. Owen (Harry) was about sixty years of age and Marilyn Owen (Marilyn) was forty-nine. This was the second marriage for both. In March 1977, Harry and Marilyn became engaged and for approximately three and one-half years lived together until their marriage on December 21, 1980. They separated one year and seven months after the marriage. The divorce action followed.

Prior to the marriage, Marilyn owned a 1972 Oldsmobile automobile, a 1975 Marshfield mobile home and the lot on which the mobile home was located, a certificate of deposit (CD), a savings account, and her personal furniture. Prior to his relationship with Marilyn, Harry had $70,000 to $75,000 in bonds, $50,000 to $60,000 in a savings account and a retirement pension. During the marriage, a CD in the amount of $24,000 was purchased from the proceeds of crops harvested prior to the marriage. At Harry's direction, Marilyn purchased the CD in both of their names as joint tenants. Marilyn, without Harry's direction, arranged to have the interest deposited to her personal checking account monthly. She testified at trial that she had received something over $6,000 through these interest payments. Harry also purchased a 1980 Oldsmobile 98 for use by the parties during the marriage. Marilyn claimed that she was the principal user of this vehicle and that it was a gift to her from Harry.

It is settled law in South Dakota that this court will not disturb a property division unless it clearly appears that the trial court abused its discretion in entering its judgment. Jones v. Jones, 334 N.W.2d 492 (S.D.1983); Ostwald v. Ostwald, 331 N.W.2d 64 (S.D.1983); Prentice v. Prentice, 322 N.W.2d 880 (S.D.1982); Nauman v. Nauman, 320 N.W.2d 519 (S.D.1982); Hrdlicka v. Hrdlicka, 310 N.W.2d 160 (S.D.1981). The trial court's discretion is therefore very broad; it is not, however, uncontrolled. A property disposition must soundly and substantially be based upon testimony and evidence. Ostwald, supra; Hrdlicka, supra; Krage v. Krage, 329 N.W.2d 878 (S.D.1983); Haskell v. Haskell, 279 N.W.2d 903 (S.D.1979); Masek v. Masek, 89 S.D. 62, 228 N.W.2d 334 (1975). The equity of a property settlement rests upon several factors as they appear material to the facts and circumstances of each case. Krage, supra; Wallahan v. Wallahan, 284 N.W.2d 21 (S.D.1979).

The trial court is not bound by any mathematical formula, but it must consider the duration of the marriage, the value of each party's property, their ages, health and ability to earn a living, the value of each party's assets and their income-producing assets, and each party's contribution to the accumulation of marital property. Hersrud v. Hersrud, 346 N.W.2d 753 (S.D.1984); Krage, supra; Lien v. Lien, 278 N.W.2d 436 (S.D.1979); Vaughn v. Vaughn, 252 N.W.2d 910 (S.D.1977); SDCL 25-4-44.

The trial court divided the property in light of the parties' circumstances and the principles of equity, pursuant to SDCL 25-4-44. In substance, the property division awarded Marilyn the property which she had owned prior to the marriage, the approximate $6,000 in interest she received on the CD, and an award of $5,000 cash. Harry retained what remained of the property he owned prior to the marriage, the Oldsmobile 98 automobile, and the $24,000 CD.

Marilyn first attacks the property division on the grounds that the Oldsmobile 98 and one-half of the CD were gifts to her from Harry. She asserts that Harry gave her the car and an interest in the CD as consideration for her contributions as a wife and homemaker and cites O'Connor v. O'Connor, 307 N.W.2d 132 (S.D.1981). O'Connor is distinguishable. There the marriage lasted more than four years, compared with one and one-half years here. The wife in O'Connor worked part-time and contributed her entire income during the marriage. She also bore a child and suffered a miscarriage during the marriage. Marilyn did not work, contribute income, or bear children during this marriage. The O'Connor opinion points to Kittelson v. Kittelson, 272 N.W.2d 86 (S.D.1978), for the rule that a housewife's performance of typical domestic duties constitutes a valuable contribution to the accumulation of farm property. The trial court in this case found that Marilyn did not contribute to the accumulation of property, did no chores or field work and, in fact, disrupted the farm operation.

The donor's intent must be shown in order to determine that a gift has been made; "[a] gift is a transfer of personal property, made voluntarily and without consideration." SDCL 43-36-1. The essential elements of a gift inter vivos are intent, delivery and acceptance. The trial court found in regard to the Oldsmobile that Harry had purchased the automobile for the use of the parties, "and at no time intended to make a gift of this automobile to [Marilyn]." The record shows that Harry purchased the vehicle with his own funds and more importantly that he registered it in his own name....

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  • Endres v. Endres
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • June 26, 1995
    ...based on the evidence. Gibson v. Gibson, 437 N.W.2d 170, 171 (S.D.1989); Goehry v. Goehry, 354 N.W.2d 192 (S.D.1984); Owen v. Owen, 351 N.W.2d 139 (S.D.1984). The omission of assets which should properly be included as marital property is an abuse of discretion. Gibson, 437 N.W.2d at 171; P......
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    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
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    ...and substantially based on the evidence. Gibson, 437 N.W.2d at 171; Goehry v. Goehry, 354 N.W.2d 192, 194 (S.D.1984); Owen v. Owen, 351 N.W.2d 139, 141 (S.D.1984). ¶36 The trial court determined at the motion for reconsideration hearing that placing a security interest on Bruce's property w......
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    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • November 13, 1984
    ...a divorce action, the trial court is bound by no mathematical formula. See, e.g., Booth v. Booth, 354 N.W.2d 924 (S.D.1984); Owen v. Owen, 351 N.W.2d 139 (S.D.1984); Wolff v. Wolff, supra; Kressly v. Kressly, 77 S.D. 143, 87 N.W.2d 601 (1958). The trial The trial court has broad discretion ......
  • Midzak v. Midzak
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    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • May 11, 2005
    ...and substantially based on evidence. Id. (citing Gibson, 437 N.W.2d at 171; Goehry v. Goehry, 354 N.W.2d 192 (S.D.1984); Owen v. Owen, 351 N.W.2d 139 (S.D.1984)). We have repeatedly held that retirement accounts and pensions, including military pensions, must be treated as marital assets an......
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