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Beck v. Beck

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division III

May 17, 2017



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

          Branscum Law Offices, by: Herby Branscum, Jr., and Elizabeth Branscum Burgess, for appellee.

          ROBERT J. GLADWIN, Judge

         Friedrich Brian Beck (Brian) appeals the Perry County Circuit Court's order of April 14, 2016, which awarded attorney's fees, costs, and alimony to appellee Tara Anet Beck, and the December 31, 2015 divorce decree. Brian's three points on appeal are that the trial court erred by (1) finding any marital interest in B&B Construction and Specialties, Inc.; (2) awarding permanent alimony to Tara after the final decree was entered; and (3) awarding substantial attorney's fees to Tara. We affirm.

         Tara filed for divorce on July 14, 2014, based on the ground of general indignities. The parties have one daughter, born in 2003, and Tara sought custody, child support, and temporary spousal support. After Brian had filed his answer, a temporary hearing was held on September 17, 2014, and the trial court filed an order on October 22, 2014, finding that the parties agreed that Tara would have custody of their daughter and ordering Brian to pay $262.10 per week in child support and their daughter's school tuition and expenses retroactive to July 14, 2014. Tara was also awarded spousal support of $400 per month retroactive to July 14, 2014.

         Tara amended her complaint for divorce on May 15, 2015, adding a request for alimony. The divorce hearing took place over three days-May 20, May 22, and October 21, 2015. Tara testified that she had lived in Perry County since early July 2014, her residency was corroborated by Debra Bradley (Tara's mother), and Brian waived corroboration of grounds on the record. Tara and Brian had lived together prior to their marriage in 2000. She said that when they met and moved in together Brian was doing commercial-carpentry finishing work and that he had not yet incorporated his business. She said that he had worked from the dashboard of his truck back then but later set up an office with a fax machine in her house on Rupert Drive in Conway. After their marriage, their daughter was born in 2003, and tuition for her private school was $7050 for the 2015-2016 school year, not including books, uniforms, or supplies. Tara testified that she worked in Conway as a pharmacy technician making around $19, 000 per year, and she planned to move from the travel trailer where she had been living since the separation.

         Tara said that while they cohabited prior to marriage, she and Brian discussed that, for the business to be more profitable, they needed to directly bid on the construction jobs. B&B Construction and Specialties, Inc. (B&B), was incorporated on February 22, 1999, prior to their marriage on May 18, 2000. The articles of incorporation reflect the business address for B&B as 3975 Rupert Drive, the address where they had lived together from August 1997 to November 1999, when they moved to property they had purchased together. Tara introduced evidence that the secretary of state had documents that listed her as the secretary of B&B in 2014 and 2015. She worked at B&B off and on through the years until 2008 when she sought work outside the home and B&B. She explained that when they sold their properties, whether their home, office, or speculation houses, the proceeds would be placed into B&B. The tornado that hit on April 27, 2014, destroyed the buildings that housed the business. Insurance covering both property and equipment was roughly $260, 000. The business has since relocated.

         Tara testified that after her daughter was born, she gave Brian her power of attorney so that he could handle all their business dealings. She revoked that on July 17, 2014, after she had filed for divorce. They sold their property where the business and house had been located for $275, 000, and an attached piece of property sold for $48, 000; and those moneys were divided equally between her and Brian. The parties had bought property on Lake Overcup that once belonged to Brian's family, and they paid the mortgage off in 2006. She said that her name had been on the mortgage, but her name was not on the warranty deed. She also testified about property in Woodruff County that Brian had purchased, and she detailed her expenses and debts for the trial court.

         Brian testified that he began working in carpentry in 1991 when he was twenty-one years old doing business as B&B Construction. He had learned his trade while working with his father, and he began with residential work. He named the company B&B, which stood for Beck & Beck, because he planned to work with his father in the business. He said that he incorporated in 1999, adding Specialties, Incorporated to the end of the name of his business. Brian testified about the growth of his business from 1999, its slump in 2009, and then its up-and-down business health since then. He also testified about the properties that they had each owned prior to marriage and what they owned together after their marriage. Brian's salary had remained consistent at around $84, 000 per year, but the distributions from B&B had ranged from $61, 000 to $101, 000.

         At the conclusion of the hearing, the trial court took the matter under advisement and issued a divorce decree on December 31, 2015. The trial court found that Tara was entitled to a divorce, that the parties were awarded joint legal custody with Tara having primary physical custody, and that visitation would be as agreed by the parties. Brian was ordered to pay child support of $203.60 per week based on an imputed income of $1500 per week and after giving him credit for the child's school tuition at the rate of $7050 per year. The trial court valued B&B at $265, 915, based on the expert testimony offered at the final hearing and further found that the business was jointly and equally owned by the parties and that Tara was entitled to a one-half interest. The trial court awarded Brian ownership of B&B and gave Tara a $132, 957.50 judgment against both the stock and Brian's interest in the company.

         The trial court awarded to Brian the three parcels of real property owned by the parties-B&B business property located at Highway 89; the Lake Overcup cabin; and the Woodruff County property. The decree divided their various accounts and personal property, and it also provides as follows:

13. Payments to [Tara]: The Court finds that [Tara] has been awarded her one-half interest in B&B Construction and Specialties, Inc., as discussed in Paragraph 8 herein, with said one-half being in the amount of $132, 957.50, and her one-half interest in the three parcels of real property, as discussed in Paragraph 10 herein, with said one-half being in the amount of $110, 000, for a total monetary award to [Tara] being in the amount of $242, 957.50.
The Court finds and orders that upon entry of this Final Decree of Divorce [Brian] shall pay to [Tara] $110, 000 for her interest in the parties' real property, and in turn [Tara] shall execute and deliver to [Brian] a ...

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