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Pfeil v. Lock

Supreme Court of Alaska

October 25, 2013

Aaron PFEIL, Appellant,
v.
Chachee LOCK, f/k/a Chachee Pfeil, Appellee.

Page 650

Jürgen Jensen, The Law Office of Jürgen Jensen, Anchorage, for Appellant.

Mario Lincoln Bird, Anchorage, for Appellee.

Before: FABE, Chief Justice, WINFREE, STOWERS, MAASSEN, and BOLGER, Justices.

OPINION

WINFREE, Justice.

I. INTRODUCTION

A couple initiated divorce proceedings after two years of marriage. Noting the marriage's short duration, the wife requested that the superior court " return the parties as much as possible into their pre-marital financial status" and sought a property division under Rose v. Rose. [1] The husband requested that the superior court " equitably divide all marital property." [2]

After a one-day trial the superior court granted a divorce decree and divided marital property based on a determination that the " parties are asking the court to apply a modified version of Rose. " The superior court divided all of the property, based partly on Rose and partly on equitable division. The husband moved for reconsideration, arguing that the superior court had ignored his request for equitable distribution of all marital property and that the resulting distribution was inequitable. The superior court denied the reconsideration motion without explanation. The husband appeals.

Because the superior court's decision was (1) based on the faulty premise that both parties agreed to a Rose property division and (2) not otherwise supported by necessary factual findings, we reverse and remand for a new property division.

II. FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS

A. Facts

Aaron Pfeil and Chachee Lock began dating in 2005 or 2006, became cohabitants sometime between December 2007 and March 2008, and married in June 2009. The parties' primary disputed assets, which essentially are the sole focus of this appeal, are two houses, a vehicle, and a four-wheeler.[3]

Page 651

1. Real property

In December 2007 Chachee purchased a home on East 65th Avenue in Anchorage (E. 65th home). The parties dispute exactly when Aaron moved into that home, but agree they were cohabitants from at least March 2008 until December 2010, when Aaron purchased a home on Langnes Court in Anchorage (Langnes home). The parties then used the Langnes home as their marital residence and the E. 65th home as a rental property.

While they shared the E. 65th home— both before and after marriage— Aaron and Chachee each deposited around $1,200 monthly into a joint account. This money was used to pay the mortgage and other household bills. Both also contributed to home improvements. After moving into the Langnes home they rented out the E. 65th home, but the rental income was insufficient to cover all of that home's expenses. During this period Aaron paid the Langnes home mortgage and ...


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