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Charles B. Worland v. Jacqueline K. Worland

October 1, 2010

CHARLES B. WORLAND, APPELLANT,
v.
JACQUELINE K. WORLAND, APPELLEE.



Supreme Court No. S-13498;Superior Court No. 3AN-05-05282 CI Appeal from the Superior Court of the State of Alaska, Third Judicial District, Anchorage, Craig Stowers, Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Winfree, Justice.

Notice: This opinion is subject to correction before publication in the PACIFIC REPORTER. Readers are requested to bring errors to the attention of the Clerk of the Appellate Courts, 303 K Street, Anchorage, Alaska 99501, phone (907) 264-0608, fax (907) 264-0878, e-mail corrections@appellate.courts.state.ak.us.

OPINION

Before: Fabe, Winfree, and Christen, Justices. [Carpeneti, Chief Justice, and Stowers, Justice, not participating.]

I. INTRODUCTION

Charles and Jacqueline Worland separated in 2005 at the initiation of divorce proceedings. They attended a settlement conference in 2006 and agreed to a division of their marital property. The superior court enforced the parties' settlement agreement over Charles's objection and issued its divorce decree, orders, and findings of fact and conclusions of law. We later affirmed the superior court's judgment.*fn1 After we issued our decision the superior court granted Jacqueline's request for a clerk's deed, modified its orders concerning Charles's military pension, sanctioned Charles, and awarded Jacqueline attorney's fees. Charles appeals. We vacate the imposition of sanctions, vacate the amended divorce decree and remand for corrections, and affirm the remainder of the superior court's orders.

II. FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS

Charles and Jacqueline Worland married on March 20, 1982, and separated on February 17, 2005, the day Jacqueline filed this divorce action. They attended a settlement conference in February 2006. The parties agreed and placed on the record that: (1) Charles would assume or refinance the mortgage on their house and Jacqueline would receive 60% of the equity; (2) Charles and Jacqueline would equally divide their pensions, including Charles's military pension; and (3) Charles would pay Jacqueline $2,000 in attorney's fees.

In July 2006 Jacqueline requested a hearing to resolve issues pertaining to the pension orders, the amount Charles was to pay Jacqueline for her share of the house equity, and the final divorce decree. The hearing took place in October and was continued into November. Both parties were represented by attorneys who entered appearances after the settlement conference. The following month Charles filed paperwork arguing that no settlement existed and that the superior court should order a trial.

In May 2007 the superior court rejected Charles's argument and issued its divorce decree, orders, and amended findings of fact and conclusions of law. The military pension order submitted by Jacqueline and signed by the court provided that Charles had served 248 months after the marriage and assigned Jacqueline "[f]ifty [p]ercent (50%) of the marital portion of [Charles's] total disposable military retirement pay." The court divided the other pensions equally and ordered Charles to "refinance the marital home and pay [Jacqueline] 60% of [the] equity within 45-days." The court later awarded $14,790.20 in attorney's fees to Jacqueline.

Charles appealed, and we affirmed the superior court's judgment in September 2008.*fn2 We rejected Charles's argument that the court erred by enforcing the settlement agreement.*fn3 We determined the court did not err in dividing the marital property.*fn4 Finally, we upheld the court's award of attorney's fees.*fn5

In October 2008 Jacqueline moved to enforce the superior court's orders. She asserted that Charles had failed to (1) pay the attorney's fees awarded to her and (2) remove her name from the house mortgage and pay her 60% of the house equity, which she calculated to be $57,065.33. Jacqueline requested that the superior court "issu[e] a clerk's deed awarding all interest in the marital home to [her]" at which point she "could . . . sell the home and obtain the majority of the proceeds owed to her." Charles opposed the motion and asked the superior court to order Jacqueline to make the mortgage payments going back to February 28, 2006, because she had continued to reside in the home.

The superior court granted Jacqueline's motion in late February 2009. The court specified that the clerk's deed would provide Jacqueline the "power of sale of the marital home" and would "substitute for $69,580.00 of the amount [Charles] owes to [Jacqueline]." The court also ordered Charles to satisfy his remaining debt to Jacqueline on or before April 1.

In March Jacqueline moved to correct the final value of the house equity and for more than $30,000 in attorney's fees.*fn6 She also asked the court to amend the military pension order and to award her the entire pension because (1) she was owed money for the previously unpaid share of the pension*fn7 and (2) Charles "dropped [her] from the survivor benefit status, in complete disregard of the injunction preventing him from doing so." In response, Charles moved for attorney's fees and sanctions.

On March 20 Charles apparently wrote a personal check to Jacqueline for $77,659.87 but did not deliver it,*fn8 later claiming this satisfied his debt to her. One week later Charles filed an expedited motion to vacate the clerk's deed. Charles indicated he did not deliver the check because he was waiting to exchange it for a quit claim deed to the house.

The superior court denied Charles's expedited motion on April 9. The court also denied Jacqueline's motion to correct the final value of the house equity. With respect to the military pension order, the court "granted in principle" Jacqueline's request "to correct for the arrears that have built up because of [Charles's] appeal and other delay" (emphasis omitted) and ordered Jacqueline to introduce evidence showing the amount of arrears. The court also modified its prior order by requiring Charles, "as a sanction for his removing [Jacqueline's] name" from the survivor benefits plan, "to immediately obtain at his sole expense and maintain at his sole expense survivor benefits for [Jacqueline]." (Emphasis omitted.) The court denied Charles's motion for attorney's fees and sanctions.

Charles moved in our court for a stay of the clerk's deed. An individual justice stayed the deed's issuance until May 20 ...


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