Radmanesh v. Radmanesh

Docket NumberS-22-826
Decision Date27 October 2023
Citation315 Neb. 393
PartiesJuli Ann Radmanesh, appellee, v. Kourosh C. Radmanesh, appellant.
CourtNebraska Supreme Court

1. Divorce: Property Division: Alimony: Appeal and Error. In a marital dissolution action, an appellate court reviews the case de novo on the record to determine whether there has been an abuse of discretion by the trial judge. This standard of review applies to the trial court's determinations of alimony and property division.

2. Evidence: Appeal and Error. In a review de novo on the record, an appellate court is required to make independent factual determinations based upon the record, and the court reaches its own independent conclusions with respect to the matters at issue.

3. ___ ___ . When evidence is in conflict, the appellate court considers and may give weight to the fact that the trial court heard and observed the witnesses and accepted one version of the facts rather than another.

4. Judges: Words and Phrases. A judicial abuse of discretion exists if the reasons or rulings of a trial judge are clearly untenable, unfairly depriving a litigant of a substantial right and denying just results in matters submitted for disposition.

5. Divorce: Property Division: Alimony. In a dissolution of marriage proceeding, Neb. Rev. Stat. § 42-365 (Reissue 2016) allows a court to order payment of such alimony by one party to the other and division of property as may be reasonable.

6. Property Division: Alimony. The purpose of alimony is to provide for the continued maintenance or support of one party by the other when the relative economic circumstances make it appropriate. The purpose of property division is to distribute the marital assets equitably between the parties.

7. Alimony: Appeal and Error. In reviewing an alimony award, an appellate court does not determine whether it would have awarded the same amount of alimony as the trial court did but whether the trial court's award is untenable such as to deprive a party of a substantial right or just result. An appellate court is not inclined to disturb the trial court's award of alimony unless it is patently unfair on the record.

8. Divorce: Alimony. In weighing a request for alimony, the court may consider all the property owned by the parties when entering the decree, whether accumulated by their joint efforts or acquired by inheritance.

9. Judgments: Appeal and Error. As a general proposition, an appellate court does not require a district court to explain its reasoning.

10. Alimony. The primary purpose of alimony is to assist an ex-spouse for a reasonable period of time necessary for that individual to secure his or her own means of support. Ultimately, the duration of an alimony award must be reasonable.

11 ___. Alimony should not be used as a tool to equalize the parties' incomes or to punish one of the parties. However, a disparity of income or potential income might partially justify an alimony award.

12. Divorce: Property Division: Equity. The purpose of assigning a date of valuation in a dissolution decree is to ensure that the marital estate is equitably divided.

13. Divorce: Property Division: Appeal and Error. Generally, the date upon which a marital estate is valued should be rationally related to the property composing the marital estate and the property being divided. The date of valuation is reviewed for an abuse of the trial court's discretion.

14. Property Division. Marital debt includes only those obligations incurred during the marriage for the joint benefit of the parties. This is a flexible, fact-specific standard.

Appeal from the District Court for Sarpy County: Stefanie A. Martinez, Judge. Affirmed.

Liam K. Meehan, of Wagner, Meehan & Watson, L.L.P., for appellant.

April M. Lucas, Joy Kathurima, and Tracy Hightower-Henne, of Hightower Reff Law, L.L.C., for appellee.

Heavican, C.J., Miller-Lerman, Cassel, Stacy, Funke, Papik, and Freudenberg, JJ. Funke, J.


Husband appeals from a decree of dissolution, arguing that the district court for Sarpy County, Nebraska, erred in awarding wife alimony and an equalization payment and in equally dividing student loans for the parties' children. Finding no abuse of discretion, we affirm the decree.


Kourosh C. Radmanesh (Cyrus) and Juli Ann Radmanesh were married in 1991. During the marriage, the parties had twin children born in April 2000. The parties separated in or around August 2018. In July 2021, Juli filed a complaint for dissolution of marriage. The parties' children had reached the age of majority by the time of the trial.

1. Trial

At the trial, Cyrus and Juli were the only witnesses. The testimony and evidence pertinent to the issues raised on appeal is summarized below. Additional facts will be introduced, where relevant, in our analysis of the parties' arguments on appeal.

(a) Alimony

For the 4 years before the trial, Juli worked at a retail store, earning approximately $40,000 annually. She contributed to an employer-sponsored retirement plan while working in that position. Juli testified that her monthly expenses were approximately $4,000. Juli requested alimony of $1,000 per month for 5 years from Cyrus.

Juli testified that she inherited approximately $160,000 from her father's estate, mostly in stocks, after separating from Cyrus, but before the trial. She further testified that most of that inheritance was initially placed in a savings account, and the rest was placed in her checking account or used to pay expenses. The parties agreed that the funds in several of Juli's accounts were from her inheritance Cyrus testified that he was a consultant in the telecommunications industry and that he owned his own firm. He testified that he made between $10,000 and $140,000 per contract. He further testified that his income varied annually depending on the length and location of the contracts. For example, documentation admitted into evidence showed that Cyrus earned an average of $106,000 annually between 2009 and 2013, and an average of $20,000 annually between 2014 and 2018. Cyrus testified that for his most recent contract, from 2019 to 2021, he earned $143,000 to $145,000 annually. Cyrus testified that he had not worked since 2021 and that he was paying his bills with his savings. Cyrus further testified that he had bid for new contracts, but to no avail.

Juli, however, suggested that Cyrus was responsible for his unemployment. The district court admitted into evidence a copy of an email and text message sent from Cyrus to the parties' children. Therein, Cyrus stated that although his current contract was ending, he had been offered a full-time job, contingent on his being vaccinated for COVID-19. Cyrus stated that he was willing to get the vaccine "if Juli suspend[ed] the divorce case" until the children graduated from college. Cyrus stated that he had communicated this to Juli, along with other "incentive[s]" that she would receive if she suspended the divorce. Cyrus further stated that if Juli did not agree, he "will not get the COVID19 vaccine and after 12/31/21 he will be unemployed and [give] no support for the family in 2022 and beyond." According to Cyrus, Juli did not agree to his terms. Thereafter, Cyrus told his children he would be unable to provide for them because he was "volunteering" not to get the vaccine required for the job.

Cyrus also testified that he was 65 years old at the time of the trial and that he would like to work until he was 70 years old or older. He then confirmed that he intended to work for the next 5 years at least if he was able. He stated that once he retired, he would rely on Social Security benefits to pay his expenses, benefits which he expected to be approximately $4,000 a month. Cyrus had not contributed to any retirement account, and evidence at the trial showed that his monthly expenses were estimated to be approximately $4,000. He also had other bills and miscellaneous expenses. Cyrus argued against any obligation for spousal support for Juli.

(b) Equalization Payment

Juli testified to her ownership and the value of multiple bank accounts, credit card accounts, and retirement accounts that were separate from an IRA holding her inherited funds. She also testified that she owned a vehicle. Juli requested that the district court divide all marital property equally. Juli also requested that the previously mentioned inheritance from her father's estate be deemed nonmarital property and not included in the valuation of the marital estate.

Cyrus agreed with Juli's classification of the inherited funds and did not request any of those funds nor Juli's retirement funds.

The district court admitted into evidence a marital estate distribution worksheet proposed by Juli. The proposed distribution listed the value of the parties' assets and debts. All the assets and debts for both parties were valued between July 4 and November 1, 2021.

Cyrus argued that Juli's proposed distribution of assets incorrectly valued his bank account. According to his testimony, as well as the proposed distribution and bank account statements, the account had a balance of $115,100 as of August 2021. However, Cyrus testified that by the time of the trial, the value of the account had depleted to approximately $52,000 because he had been unemployed and had used the account for expenses. Cyrus did not offer any documentary evidence to support his testimony that the account had been depleted since the divorce filing. Nor did he dispute any of the evidence or testimony presented by Juli about the value of the remainder of the parties' marital estate. The total value of the proposed marital estate, as set forth by Juli, was $96,403.51, and her proposed distribution via...

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