Ruiz v. Kinoshita

Citation197 A.3d 47,239 Md.App. 395
Decision Date02 November 2018
Docket NumberNo. 197, Sept. Term, 2017,197, Sept. Term, 2017
Parties Antonio RUIZ v. Yuko KINOSHITA
CourtCourt of Special Appeals of Maryland

239 Md.App. 395
197 A.3d 47

Antonio RUIZ

No. 197, Sept. Term, 2017

Court of Special Appeals of Maryland.

November 2, 2018

Argued by: Alexander K. Anderson, Rockville, Maryland, on the brief, for Appellant.

Argued by: Melissa H. Bender (Gwendolen C. Lesh McLeod and Haspel, McLeod & Drawbaugh, P.C., on the brief) Rockville, Maryland, for Appellee.

Panel: Meredith, Arthur, Leahy, JJ.

Leahy, J.

239 Md.App. 401

Antonio Ruiz ("Appellant") and Yuko Kinoshita ("Appellee") were married in 2004. They have two children. Yuko filed the underlying divorce in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County in 2016.1 The court bifurcated proceedings into two "stages": (1) "custody" and (2) "remaining issues." In a series of orders entered between August and December 2016, the court enforced a post-nuptial agreement and the transfer of a condominium property to Yuko pursuant thereto; ratified a consent order the parties reached as to custody and access; and awarded Yuko $1,540 per month in child support, including costs related to the children's private schooling, plus a portion of the costs of therapy and childcare. Over three months later, on March 8, 2017, the court entered a final judgment incorporating these orders and granting the parties an absolute divorce.

On April 3, 2017, Antonio filed an appeal to this Court from the circuit court's final order. He challenges the circuit court's enforcement of the post-nuptial agreement, four of the court's decisions relating to its child support order, and the court's denial of his request for attorneys' fees.2 In her response brief,

239 Md.App. 402

Yuko moves this Court to dismiss as untimely Antonio's appeal from the circuit court's 2016 orders.

We affirm the trial court on all issues raised on appeal by Antonio and deny Yuko's motion to dismiss. There was no final judgment that disposed of all the parties' remaining claims in the underlying divorce proceeding from which Antonio was required to appeal within 30 days until the court entered the Judgment of Absolute Divorce on March 8, 2017.


A. Initial Filings

The parties have two children, N.K., born in 2007, and M.K., born in 2009. After

197 A.3d 52

living in Japan for several years, the parties separated in September 2015, within days of returning to the United States.

On April 4, 2016, Yuko filed for divorce. In her complaint, Yuko stated that she and the children had been living in their Maryland home since September 13, 2015, which is the same day she claimed Antonio "constructively deserted and abandoned [Yuko] and moved to the [D.C.] apartment jointly owned by [them]."

Yuko averred that on August 17, 2006, Antonio signed a "Post-Nuptial Agreement" ("Agreement") after she had discovered his adultery. Pursuant to the Agreement, Antonio must transfer the condominium in D.C. ("D.C. property") to Yuko "in the event of the parties' separation or termination of their marriage[.]" Yuko asked the court to (1) award her sole legal and physical custody of N.K. and M.K. pendente lite and permanently; (2) award her child support; (3) determine all property ownership, and award her title, use and possession of the family use property; (4) incorporate the Post-Nuptial Agreement into the divorce decree; and (5) award her attorneys' fees.

239 Md.App. 403

A few days later, Yuko filed a financial statement, indicating tax-free3 gross monthly earnings of $13,551.54, reduced to $12,428.52 in net monthly income after deducting for retirement.

The court entered a scheduling order on May 31, 2016. The order divided the case into two stages: "Stage 1 (custody)," with a two-day hearing in November 2016; and "Stage 2 (remaining issues)," with a settlement/pretrial hearing set for February 2, 2017.

Antonio answered Yuko's complaint on June 15, 2016. He admitted that the parties signed the Post-Nuptial Agreement; however, he declared that the Agreement entitled him to compensation for his 27% interest in the D.C. property. As to Yuko's request for child support, Antonio denied that she could not support the children without his help. Because the parties' combined income put them above the child support guidelines, Antonio asked the court to consider that Yuko's income is tax-free and that she has significant savings. Antonio also sought attorneys' fees and costs.

A month later, on July 18, 2016, Antonio filed a counter-complaint requesting (1) an absolute divorce; (2) shared physical and legal custody of N.K. and M.K.; (3) determination of child support in accordance with the guidelines; (4) resolution of all property ownership regardless of title not subject to the Agreement; and (5) attorneys' fees and costs. Listing constructive desertion among his grounds for divorce, Antonio averred that in September 2015, Yuko asked him to leave the marital home and, after he did so, she and the children moved to their apartment in Maryland. He also asserted that he "is gainfully employed and is well able to contribute to the support of the Minor Child[ren.]"

Antonio filed his financial statement on September 9, 2016. He claimed gross monthly income of $9,439.73, which, after a

239 Md.App. 404

retirement contribution of $944 and taxes, resulted in a net monthly income of $6,417.33.

B. The Post-Nuptial Agreement

Two years into their marriage, on December 22, 2006, the parties entered into the Agreement to address the disposition of property should the parties separate or divorce or if one should die. In regard to "Separate Property," the parties agreed,

197 A.3d 53

"[e]ach shall during his or her lifetime keep and retain sole ownership and control of his or her Separate Property[,]" and "[e]xcept as otherwise expressly provided[,] in the event of separation, divorce, or death, neither party shall have any rights in or claims to the Separate Property of the other." The parties addressed the D.C. property in subsection (2)(c) of the section titled "Separate Property":

Yuko and Antonio are purchasing real estate property [a condominium

located in Washington, D.C.]. The purchase price of the D.C. property is $585,000 in addition to the closing cost estimated at $15,000. Yuko is making a down payment of $150,000 in addition to $15,000 for the closing cost, totaling $165,000 in cash, borrowing $108,480 ... and taking out a joint mortgage loan for the remaining amount of $327,000. The closing for the purchase of the D.C. property is scheduled for September 12, 2006. Pursuant to the parties' September 12, 2006, agreement,[4 ]... Antonio acknowledges that upon settlement of the D.C. property, Yuko
239 Md.App. 405
will be the owner of seventy three percent (73%) of the D.C. property and he, hereby, agrees to ownership of the remaining twenty seven percent (27%) of the D.C. property and assumes responsibility for one-half of the joint mortgage loan amount of $327,000 for the duration of the loan. Antonio acknowledges that the entire amount of expenses of $273,480 incurred for the purchase of the D.C. property, ... are being paid by Yuko from her own and personal accounts.... Antonio will be responsible for paying monthly one half of the mortgage payment in addition to one half of the property taxes and one half of the condo maintenance fees. Finally, Antonio pledges that in the case of separation, dissolution of the marriage or death, the D.C. property will be transferred to and owned solely by Yuko.

(Emphasis added). Subsection (2)(e) noted that "if either makes a monetary or non-monetary contribution toward the purchase, improvement, maintenance or expenses of property titled to the other spouse, the contributing spouse's monetary and/or non-monetary contributions will not create any legal or equitable right in the other's separately titled property, nor change the classification of such property." And subsection (2)(f) clarified, "Joint use of Separate Property shall not give rise to joint ownership of such Separate Property[.]"

The parties further agreed to waive, release, and relinquish a right or claim in the other's Separate Property, including "any ownership claim to such property[ ]" and "the right to seek or obtain an equitable distribution or a monetary award," noting that this subsection constituted a complete defense to the other's claim in his or her Separate Property. As for any separate debts, the parties decided that each would remain individually liable for debt arising from Separate Property, and for attorneys' fees, each party would be responsible "for his or her legal fees in connection with this

197 A.3d 54

Agreement[,]" except in certain cases, such as a material breach. The parties also included a merger clause, which stated the Agreement was their complete understanding, and a choice-of-law provision,


To continue reading

Request your trial
52 cases
  • Kaplan v. Kaplan
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • November 18, 2020 balancing "the best interests and needs of the child with the parents’ financial ability to meet those needs." Ruiz v. Kinoshita , 239 Md. App. 395, 425, 197 A.3d 47 (2018) (quoting Unkle v. Unkle , 305 Md. 587, 597, 505 A.2d 849 (1986) ). Finally, we hold that the circuit court properly......
  • David A. v. Karen S.
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • July 31, 2019
    ...the [ § 12-103(b) factors] to ‘decid[e] whether to award counsel fees and, if so, in what amount.’ " 242 Md.App. 40 Ruiz v. Kinoshita , 239 Md. App. 395, 438, 197 A.3d 47 (2018) (quoting Malin v. Mininberg , 153 Md. App. 358, 435-36, 837 A.2d 178 (2003) ) (alteration in Ruiz ). In addition ......
  • Kaplan v. Kaplan
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • November 18, 2020 balancing "the best interests and needs of the child with the parents' financial ability to meet those needs." Ruiz v. Kinoshita, 239 Md. App. 395, 425 (2018) (quoting Unkle v. Unkle, 305 Md. 587, 597 (1986)). We hold that the discretion accorded the trial court in an above-Guidelines ca......
  • David A. v. Karen S.
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • July 31, 2019 applying the [§ 12-103(b) factors] to 'decid[e] whether to award counsel fees and, if so, in what amount.'" Ruiz v. Kinoshita, 239 Md. App. 395, 438 (2018) (quoting Malin v. Mininberg, 153 Md. App. 358, 435-36 (2003)) (alteration in Ruiz). In addition to evaluating the § 12-103(b) factor......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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