from the Superior Court No. 3PA-14-01357 CI of the State of
Alaska, Third Judicial District, Palmer, Jonathan A. Woodman,
Matthew Hayes, Matanuska Law LLC, Palmer, for Appellant.
A. Limon, Anchorage, for Appellee.
Before: Bolger, Chief Justice, Winfree, Stowers, Maassen, and
divorce case the superior court divided the marital estate
equally; this included the marital home and an adjoining lot,
which the spouses agreed should be sold. The husband remained
in the home after the wife moved out, and he paid the
mortgage until the properties sold nearly two years after the
divorce was final.
the properties sold the parties requested a hearing on the
allocation of the sale proceeds. The husband argued that he
should be reimbursed for his post-divorce mortgage payments.
The wife countered that the husband's use of the home as
his residence offset any claim he otherwise had to
reimbursement. The superior court denied reimbursement to the
husband, and the husband appeals.
Ramsey v. Ramsey we said that the superior court has
discretion to award credit for post-separation payments made
to preserve marital assets. While we review these rulings
deferentially, the court must make factual findings
sufficient for review; the findings must clearly indicate the
court's consideration of a Ramsey credit and its
rationale for awarding one or not. In this case the findings
in the court's order allocating the sale proceeds were
insufficient, so we remand the case for additional findings.
FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS
and Bertha Hall married in 1975 and separated in November
2014. Superior Court Judge Eric Smith granted their divorce
in August 2015. Among the major marital assets were the
marital home and an adjoining lot, which the parties
stipulated should be sold to satisfy marital
debts. Judge Smith divided the marital estate
equally and directed the parties to "cooperate to ensure
that the properties are] sold as quickly as possible."
moved out of the home months before the trial, and Adolph
remained. After the divorce Adolph made various repairs to
the home, and he continued to pay the mortgage, insurance,
and taxes on the properties. The properties did not sell
until June 2017, nearly two years after the parties'
divorce. The parties requested that the sale proceeds be
impounded pending a decision about how to allocate them.
Superior Court Judge Jonathan A. Woodman, who had taken over
the case after Judge Smith retired, held a hearing in July.
sought reimbursement for several post-divorce expenses on the
properties, including mortgage payments totaling $69, 858.69.
The mortgage was a joint debt, he argued, and Judge Smith
made the parties equally responsible for it. Bertha responded
that nothing in the divorce trial or in Judge Smith's
order indicated that Adolph would be reimbursed for
post-divorce mortgage payments. She contended that any
reimbursement would have to take the form of a
Ramsey credit,  and before awarding one the court would
need to take evidence on the rental value of the home and
offset Adolph's payments by this imputed rent.
November 2017 Judge Woodman issued an order allocating the
sale proceeds, denying Adolph's request for reimbursement
for the mortgage payments. Adolph moved for reconsideration,
arguing that after the divorce the parties were cotenants;
since there was no ouster, Adolph argued he was not liable to
Bertha for the imputed rental value of the home. He also
contended that the July 2017 hearing had afforded him
"no time or opportunity to present evidence" on the
rental value of the home. Judge Woodman summarily denied
STANDARD OF REVIEW
review "the superior court's decision to grant
credit for post-separation mortgage payments for abuse of
discretion." "Under the abuse of discretion
standard, we ask 'whether the reasons for the exercise of
discretion are clearly untenable or unreasonable.'
superior court's order allocating the sale proceeds
included this ...