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Urban v. Urban

Supreme Court of Alaska

December 13, 2013

Delbert B. URBAN, Appellant,
v.
Martha C. URBAN, Appellee.

Page 514

Michael Hough, Homer, for Appellant.

Robert J. Sato, Sato & Sato, LLC, Anchorage, for Appellee.

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

OPINION

BOLGER, Justice.

I. INTRODUCTION

In order to build a yacht, Delbert Urban borrowed against the residence he owned with his wife, Martha Urban. The yacht was destroyed in a fire, and the bank foreclosed on the marital residence. After Martha Urban filed for divorce, the parties agreed to the division of most of their remaining marital assets, but they disputed the value of land they owned in Arizona. And just before the divorce trial, Martha discovered that Delbert owned stock that he failed to include in his pretrial disclosures.

The superior court accepted a county tax valuation of the land in Arizona, although Delbert presented a conflicting valuation. The superior court classified the stock as marital property because Delbert failed to disclose it before trial. The court awarded Martha $1,300 per month in spousal support and also awarded her $10,000 in attorney's fees because of Delbert's vexatious litigation conduct.

We affirm the superior court's spousal support award and valuation of the Arizona land. But we reverse and remand to allow the superior court to reconsider the attorney's fees award and the classification of the stock.

II. FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS

Delbert and Martha were married in 1993. About two years later, Delbert suffered a work injury and began receiving federal disability pay. Delbert borrowed against the marital residence to build a yacht and then stopped making the mortgage payments, which caused the residence to be lost in foreclosure. The yacht was destroyed in a fire in Mexico, and the hull insurance carrier disputed coverage based on alleged misrepresentations in the insurance application.

Page 515

Martha filed for divorce in 2010. At trial the parties agreed on valuation and distribution of the marital assets except for some land in Arizona. During trial, Martha discovered that Delbert had stock in a company called Stancorp that he had purchased prior to the marriage.

The superior court found that Delbert's decision to mortgage the marital residence and build the yacht constituted an unreasonable depletion of the marital estate. The court valued the Arizona property at $92,424 based on a property tax assessment. The court treated the Stancorp stock as a marital asset based on Delbert's false testimony about the stock and his failure to list the stock in pretrial disclosures. The court awarded about 63% of the marital property to Martha and ...


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