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Fields v. Fields

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division I

March 4, 2015

BRYAN FIELDS, APPELLANT
v.
CHRISTINE FIELDS, APPELLEE

Page 302

APPEAL FROM THE FAULKNER COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. NO. DR 2013-748. HONORABLE H.G. FOSTER, JUDGE.

Cullen & Co., PLLC, by: Tim Cullen, for appellant.

The Baker Law Firm, by: Rinda Baker, for appellee.

RITA W. GRUBER, Judge. VIRDEN and GLOVER, JJ., agree.

OPINION

Page 303

RITA W. GRUBER, Judge

The parties in this case, Christine and Bryan Fields, were married on September 8, 2012; separated in June 2013; and divorced by decree entered February 5, 2014. The sole issue on appeal is whether the trial court clearly erred in ordering Bryan to pay Christine for expenditures she made to repair or improve his premarital property. We find no error and affirm the court's order.

The parties do not dispute the relevant facts. Bryan owned a home when the parties married.[1] Before they married, Christine moved into this home with Bryan and purchased windows, which were installed in the home. At trial, she introduced the receipt for the windows and a personal check from her own funds in the amount of $4,401 dated August 6, 2012. Christine also testified that she opened a Home Depot credit account in her name while they were married that the parties used to purchase things for the house, including paint, light fixtures, and ceiling fans. She testified that everything purchased on this account was related to Bryan's house, that she had made payments on the account, and that the balance on the account at the time of trial was $717. Bryan did not dispute any of this testimony. Bryan testified that, at the time of the hearing, his home was listed for sale for $129,900 and that he had paid $124,000 for the home eight years earlier.

Christine asked the trial court to require Bryan to pay the Home Depot debt and to give her " credit" for the expenditures she incurred for windows for Bryan's house. Her attorney argued that the only evidence of the value of the house before and after installation of new windows indicated a difference of almost $6,000, which, he contended, " roughly coincides with the money spent on the house." He also asked in his closing argument for the court to take judicial notice " that the real estate market has been flat." In its decree of divorce, the trial court required Bryan to pay Christine $717.25, representing the balance of the Home Depot card, and $4,400, representing the amount she spent from her personal funds for windows placed in Bryan's house.

On appeal, Bryan argues that the trial court's order requiring him to pay the Home Depot debt and to reimburse Christine for the amount she spent on the windows was clearly erroneous. Specifically, he contends that Christine failed to meet her burden of proving any increase in value due to those expenditures, that the court made no findings supporting an unequal

Page 304

division of assets, and that the expenditure for windows was a gift before marriage.

We review divorce cases de novo. Skokos v. Skokos, 344 Ark. 420, 425, 40 S.W.3d 768, 771 (2001). With respect to the division of property in a divorce case, we review the court's findings of fact and affirm them unless they are clearly erroneous, or against the preponderance of the evidence; the division of property itself is also reviewed, and the same standard applies. Id. at 425, 40 S.W.3d at 772. We give due deference to the trial ...


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