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Davis v. Davis

Supreme Court of Arkansas

February 18, 2016

DON DAVIS, APPELLANT
v.
CHERYL DAVIS, APPELLEE

          APPEAL FROM THE POPE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. NO. DR-12-417. HONORABLE DENNIS SUTTERFIELD, JUDGE.

         Owings Law Firm, by: Tammy B. Gattis, for appellant.

         Wood Law Firm, P.A., by: Russell A. Wood; and Robert S. Tschiemer, for appellee.

          OPINION

          KAREN R. BAKER, Associate Justice

         Appellant Don Davis appeals a divorce decree entered by the Pope County Circuit Court granting appellee Cheryl Davis a divorce on the ground of general indignities.

Page 804

On appeal, Don argues that the circuit court (1) should have ordered an unequal division of marital property; (2) erred in finding that the Eureka Springs home and business were not marital assets; (3) erred in finding that the entire gun collection was marital property; and (4) should have awarded attorney's fees to Don. We accepted certification of this appeal from the Arkansas Court of Appeals on the threshold issue of whether the divorce decree was a final, appealable order. We hold that the decree is a final, appealable order and remand to the court of appeals for a decision on the merits of this appeal.

         On July 6, 1995, Cheryl and Don Davis were married. On July 31, 2012, Cheryl filed for divorce, alleging general indignities. On August 1, 2012, Don filed his answer and counterclaim, in which he also alleged the ground of general indignities. At the June 14, 2013 hearing, the parties litigated the appropriate property and debt distribution. Cheryl requested an equal distribution of marital property. Don requested an unequal distribution of marital property, arguing that Cheryl had dissipated marital assets through the sale of her business, Bethany's Design Center. On December 20, 2013, the circuit court entered a letter opinion containing its proposed decision on the case. However, the circuit court stated that " [i]f the parties wish to negotiate a different result they may do so no later than 30 days from the date of this letter. The agreement is to be a full, complete and total settlement of all issues and embodied in a decree evidencing the signatures of the attorneys of record and the parties." The letter opinion further stated that the " case is set for January 27, 2014 at 1:30 p.m. to review the status of the entry of the decree in this matter." On January 22, 2014, Cheryl filed a petition to sell real and personal property in which she asserted that " [i]t does not appear that the parties can reach agreement on the disposition of the real and personal property." On February 3, 2014, the circuit court entered the divorce decree, which provided in pertinent part as follows:

4. All marital property unless otherwise set forth herein shall be sold at public auction to the highest bidder upon the customary terms and conditions. The Circuit Clerk shall be appointed to act as the commissioner for that purpose at a date and time to be agreed upon by the parties or set by the Court no later than 90 days after the entry of this Divorce Decree. The proceeds of the sale shall be first applied to any indebtedness secured by the individual properties, then to the costs, clerk's fee and the marital debts of the parties with the remainder to be divided equally between the parties unless another disbursement is specified below.
5. The division of property shall be as follows:
....
g. Personal Property. The court shall honor any agreement as to their personal property. Any and all personal property upon which the parties cannot agree shall be inventoried for the Court Clerk and sold and the proceeds divided as set forth above.

         Additionally, the circuit court found that there was no proof of marital equity in the Eureka Springs home, that there was no evidence of equity in the Eureka Springs business, that the gun collection was marital property, and that Cheryl had not dissipated marital assets in the sale of the business. Neither party was awarded attorney's fees. On February 18, 2014, Don filed a motion for ...


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