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Bilbao v. Bilbao

Supreme Court of Alaska

April 17, 2009

Pedro BILBAO, Appellant,
v.
Annette K. BILBAO n/k/a Johnson, Appellee.

Robert C. Erwin, LLC, Anchorage, for Appellant.

Page 312

Peggy A. Roston, Law Office of Peggy A. Roston, Anchorage, for Appellee.

Before : FABE, Chief Justice, MATTHEWS, EASTAUGH, CARPENETI, and WINFREE, Justices.

OPINION

CARPENETI, Justice.

I. INTRODUCTION

In a divorce proceeding the trial court divided the marital property of the parties evenly, distributing half to each. Because at the time of divorce the husband possessed more of the marital assets than the wife, the court ordered him to make an equalizing payment of $202,962 to her. In calculating the amount of this equalizing payment, the court considered as marital property $50,500 that the husband had recently withdrawn from some certificates of deposit. The husband argues that the court erred in characterizing these funds as marital property because they originated in separate property such as pension payments and a workers' compensation award. The wife argues that the husband failed to meet his burden of proving that the certificates were separate property through tracing. Because the husband had the burden of tracing these assets and failed to do so, the trial court correctly found them to be marital property. Accordingly, we affirm.

II. FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS

Pedro and Annette Bilbao married in 1982. At the time, Pedro worked as a diesel mechanic for Sealand, and he retired in 2002. Annette filed for divorce in November 2005. At the time of the divorce trial, Pedro was sixty-two years old, and Annette was fifty-three. The Bilbaos have two adult children.

The case was tried in July 2006. Superior Court Judge Sen K. Tan determined that the marital property should be divided equally, and the parties assented to this. After characterizing the separate and marital assets, the court tallied the total value of the marital assets at $1,553,063. Of this total, the court found Pedro to be in possession of $979,493 worth of marital assets, and found Annette to hold $573,569. Therefore, Judge Tan ordered Pedro to make an equalizing payment of $202,962, to Annette. We will describe some particular assets further here because their characterization or disposition has been disputed.

A. Local 302 Pension

Upon Pedro's retirement from Sealand, he began receiving a $3,722 monthly pension from the Operating Engineers Union Local 302 (Local 302 pension). The court heard expert testimony and valued the marital portion of it at $104,905. The parties agreed that Pedro should continue to receive the full monthly pension payment, and increase the equalizing payment to Annette to reflect her share of the present value of the portion of the entire pension that was marital property.

B. Workers' Compensation Payments

In 2002 Pedro received a workers' compensation award of $26,550 for shoulder injuries. He also testified that he received an additional $8,000 in workers' compensation for a knee injury, but provided no documentation of this. He stated that his workers' compensation payments ...


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