MICHAEL WAYLAND TIPTON, SR. APPELLANT
PAMELIA KAY TIPTON APPELLEE
FROM THE PERRY COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 53DR-15-72]
HONORABLE CATHLEEN V. COMPTON, JUDGE REVERSED AND REMANDED
D. Watson, Attorney at Law, PLLC, by: Brett D. Watson, for
Branscum Law Offices, by: Herby Branscum, Jr., and Elizabetth
Branscum Burgess, for appellee.
PHILLIP T. WHITEAKER, Judge
Perry County Circuit Court granted appellee Pamelia
Tipton's complaint for divorce. In the divorce decree,
the court ordered an unequal division of marital property. On
appeal, appellant Michael Tipton argues that the circuit
court erred as a matter of law by not considering the factors
set forth in Arkansas Code Annotated section 9-12-315(a)
(Repl. 2015). We agree, and we reverse and
and Michael were married in 1992. In 2015, Pamelia filed a
complaint for divorce, and the matter proceeded to a
contested hearing. Among the issues contested were real
property interests and retirement accounts. Both parties
admitted that real estate was purchased in both Pamelia and
Michael's names in 1993. In 2000, the couple conveyed the
property solely to Pamelia because of the possibility of a
lien being placed on it by the Texas Office of Child Support
Enforcement. They later purchased a new mobile home for
the property but titled it solely in Pamelia's name
because she had better credit.
respect to their retirement accounts, Pamelia was fully
vested in her own 401(k), which had a value at the time of
trial of approximately $9, 900. The evidence concerning
Michael's retirement was less clear. Pamelia said that
she believed Michael had numerous retirement funds, including
a plan from Dean's Pickle Plant in Atkins, a plan from
Deltic Timber, and a carpenter's annuity through a
millwright's union. Michael stated that he did not
"know anything about those accounts." Neither
Pamelia nor Michael presented the court with any evidence of
vestment or value of Michael's alleged retirement.
conclusion of the trial, the circuit court ruled from the
bench and appeared to conclude that the real property was not
marital property, citing Arkansas Code Annotated section
9-12-315(b)(4), which excludes from the definition of
"marital property" "property excluded by valid
agreement of the parties." Relying on McClure v.
McClure, 220 Ark. 312, 247 S.W.2d 466 (1952), the court
determined that a husband is not entitled to the return of
real estate transferred to a wife during the marriage if the
transfer was for the purpose of defrauding his creditors.
Accordingly, the court orally awarded the real property and
the trailer to Pamelia. The court directed that Pamelia would
keep her retirement and be responsible for the debt against
it, and Michael was to keep his retirement accounts,
"whatever, wherever they are and whatever their value
may be or become."
court later entered a written decree that differed from its
oral announcements from the bench. With respect to the real
property, the court's written decree stated that it
elects to make an unequal distribution of the parties'
real property because [Michael] admitted that the mobile home
was placed in the name of [Pamelia] with the aim of keeping
the home out of the hands of [Michael's] creditors. . . .
The court further finds that based upon the testimony of both
parties, this property and the mobile home are placed in the
name of [Pamelia] for the purpose of protecting same against
certain potential liabilities that would be imposed upon
[Michael], and that same was done by agreement of the
The court finds and orders that the title to the mobile home
and the above described property shall be the property of
[Pamelia] as shown on the purchase agreement for the mobile
home and the quitclaim deed introduced herein[.]
addition, the court determined that Pamelia was entitled to
all of her 401(k) and any other retirement plans and that
Michael was entitled to all of his retirement plans.
filed a timely notice of appeal. On appeal, he argues that
the circuit court erred when it made an uneven distribution
of marital assets without addressing the factors set ...