Salazar v. Landa, 83111-COA

Citation83111-COA
Case DateMarch 23, 2022
CourtCourt of Appeals of Nevada

JOSE OSCAR SALAZAR, Appellant,
v.

AGUSTINA CERVANTES LANDA, Respondent.

No. 83111-COA

Court of Appeals of Nevada

March 23, 2022


UNPUBLISHED OPINION

Tao J. Bulla J.

ORDER AFFIRMING IN PART, REVERSING IN PART AND REMANDING

Gibbons C.J.

Jose Oscar Salazar appeals from a district court decree of divorce and an order granting in part and denying in part a motion to reconsider. Eighth Judicial District Court, Family Court Division, Clark County; Dawn Throne, Judge.[1]

Jose and Agustina Cervantes Landa were married in March 2001 in Las Vegas, Nevada.[2] In 1999, Jose purchased a house located at 1600 Ardmore Street in Las Vegas (the Ardmore property). After a few months of being married and living together, Agustina was deported to Mexico. After being deported, Agustina purportedly began to live with another man in Mexico. During the eleven years Agustina resided in Mexico, Jose would visit once a year for approximately one week. The parties had three children during the time Agustina lived in Mexico.[3] In

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2012, Agustina returned to Las Vegas and the parties resumed residing together at the Ardmore property. In 2014, the parties purchased a second residence, located at 3127 Panocha Street (the Panocha property), and began residing there while renting the Ardmore property. In 2019, Jose filed a complaint for divorce in a Nevada district court.

The district court conducted a trial to resolve the issues of child custody, child support, alimony, and division of the assets, and subsequently issued findings of fact and conclusions of law. The district court granted Jose primary physical custody of the minor children, awarded Jose child support from Agustina in the amount of $144 per month, commencing January 1, 2021, and ordered Jose to pay $600 per month in alimony for ten years. In awarding child support, the district court determined that Agustina's gross monthly income was $800 per month based on her testimony at trial. The district court also determined, based on the parties' respective financial disclosures, that the Ardmore property was valued at $142, 951 with approximately $98, 000 owed, and the Panocha property was valued at $277, 950 with approximately $155, 000 owed. The district court awarded Jose the Panocha property as his sole and separate property and awarded Agustina the Ardmore property as her sole and separate property. The district court also determined that Agustina was entitled to $60, 000 as her share of the equity in the Panocha property in order to equalize the value between the two properties. The decree did not make any further findings regarding the debts associated with the properties, including how the outstanding mortgage payments would be apportioned between Jose and Agustina.

Subsequently, Jose filed a motion to reconsider. Jose argued that when evaluating his financial status, the court relied on his 2018

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income for his gross monthly income without considering the losses to his business due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a destructive fire to his work truck, arguing that this led to incorrect calculations for child support and alimony. He also contested the division of the real properties. In her opposition to the motion to reconsider, Agustina generally contended that the district court made detailed findings in support of its initial decision and reconsideration was unwarranted.

Upon review, the district court denied the motion to reconsider the alimony award, but it granted reconsideration as to the equity owed to Agustina from the Panocha property due to a mathematical error. The court reduced the equity award that Jose was obligated to pay Agustina from $60, 000 to $38, 999.50. The district court also required Agustina to be financially responsible for the Ardmore property. Specifically, Agustina was required to refinance the mortgage into her own name within 120 days.[4]Alternatively, Agustina had the option of selling the property. If Agustina did not refinance or sell, Jose would then be permitted to sell the Ardmore property. Jose was required to "continue to make the mortgage payments on the Ardmore property until the house [was] either refinanced or sold" by Agustina. However, as a result of its order, the district court allowed Jose a credit of $456 per month toward the alimony payment and a credit of $381 per month toward the amount of $38, 999.50 he owed Agustina for her share of the equity in the Panocha property, for as long as he was still making mortgage payments on the Ardmore property. Finally, the district court relieved Jose from paying alimony arrears since he was still making the mortgage payments on the Ardmore property.

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Jose now appeals, arguing that (1) the district court abused its discretion in awarding alimony; (2) the district court erroneously calculated Agustina's child support obligation; and (3) the district court abused its discretion in awarding the Ardmore property to Agustina as her sole and separate property. On appeal, Agustina argues that the district court made detailed findings in support of the decree, specifically contending that the alimony awarded should be continued and that the Ardmore property should be her sole and separate property.[5] We agree with Jose in part and address each of his arguments below.

First, Jose contends that the district court abused its discretion in awarding alimony to Agustina, by making erroneous findings in support of the award. Jose also argues that the district court erroneously calculated the parties' gross monthly incomes, thereby incorrectly determining the monthly amount of alimony he owed Agustina. Conversely, Agustina contends that Jose should be required to pay her alimony, given that he had historically supported her during their marriage.

This court reviews a district court's alimony determination for an abuse of discretion. Kogod v. Cioffi-Kogod, 135 Nev. 64, 66, 439 P.3d 397, 400 (2019). This court will not reverse a district court's determination if its findings are supported by substantial evidence. Kelly v. Kelly, 86 Nev. 301, 307, 468 P.2d 359, 363 (1970). "Substantial evidence is that which a sensible person may accept as adequate to sustain a judgment." Williams v. Williams,

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120 Nev. 559, 566, 97 P.3d 1124, 1129 (2004). This court will not reweigh witness credibility or the weight of evidence on appeal. ...

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