FROM THE CRAWFORD COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 17DR-16-586]
HONORABLE MICHAEL J. MEDLOCK, JUDGE
R. Filyaw, for appellant.
Gean & Gean, by: Roy Gean III, for appellee.
BRANDON J. HARRISON, Judge
Franks appeals the circuit court's divorce decree,
arguing that the circuit court erred in (1) its division of
the retirement accounts, (2) its division of the marital
home, and (3) dividing the property in a "starkly
inequitable" manner. We affirm.
and William Franks married in September 1993 and separated in
November 2016. Sandra filed for divorce and asked the circuit
court to make an equitable division of the marital property.
William counterclaimed for divorce and agreed that the
parties' property should be fairly and equitably divided.
In their pleadings, neither party mentioned a prenuptial
agreement signed in September 1993; this agreement stated
each of the parties have agreed that all of the property now
owned by either party or hereafter acquired by either of them
by gift or inheritance, including any property conveyed to
either party by the other, shall be free from any rights or
claims that each party might otherwise acquired as the
agreement also included a list of the parties' separate
property; on William's list was "ABF Retirement or
Pension" and "ABF Stock."
circuit court convened a hearing in June 2017. Sandra
testified that she and William bought their marital home on
Bunker Hill Drive in November or December 1997 and that the
$31, 000 down payment came from an inheritance she had
received from her aunt. She testified that she paid another
$10, 000 toward the property in December 1997 and $63, 425
toward the property in March 1998; both of these payments
stemmed from Sandra's inheritance from her aunt. In
January 2000, Sandra received a $25, 000 payment of gas
royalties that she inherited from her aunt, and that money
was used to make improvements to the Bunker Hill house. And
in June 2011, William's brother paid approximately $34,
000 to pay off the house. In all, Sandra estimated that she
had paid 80 percent of the purchase price of the home, and
she asked the court to divide the value of the marital home
accordingly. She acknowledged that a separate property known
as the Barling property was William's premarital
property, although she said that she was responsible for
managing the rental properties contained on that property.
also explained that William has a pension "with the
Teamsters when he retired from ABF" and that he had
worked for ABF for five years before they were married. She
said that William was currently receiving $1772 a month from
that pension. Sandra explained that William also has an IRA
through ABF and that after he retired, "the IRA was left
through Morgan Stanley and then they said since he was no
longer working it had to be rolled over into a Fidelity
account." She also said that it was divided into stocks.
According to Sandra, during the marriage she had access to
the IRA and withdrew money at William's request whenever
he needed it.
cross-examination, Sandra agreed that the Bunker Hill house
was held jointly by her and William. She also agreed that she
and William had signed a prenuptial agreement and that the
agreement listed the Barling property, "ABF Retirement
or Pension, " and "ABF Stock" as William's
property. But she said that William's pension was through
the Teamsters, not through ABF.
testified that he did not dispute any of Sandra's
testimony. He stated that he wanted the Bunker Hill home to
be equally divided and that the Barling property was his
separate property. He also agreed that the Fidelity account,
which was his 401k through ABF, and his pension are listed as
his separate property in the prenuptial agreement as
"ABF retirement or pension." He clarified that his
pension is "a Teamsters pension that was paid through
ABF." He also said, "I had stock too, but we sold
that." He also stated that he had put Sandra's name
on the Morgan Stanley account because she was his wife and
acknowledged a 2013 account statement from Morgan Stanley
that listed him and Sandra as "JTWROS, " meaning
joint tenants with right of survivorship. Sandra was recalled
and confirmed that when the Morgan Stanley account was rolled
over into Fidelity, her name was not placed on the account.
the hearing, the court issued a letter opinion that found in
The Court determines the home place is marital property based
upon the testimony of the parties; the status of the
ownership as Tenants by the Entirety; and the joint occupance
and contributions of the parties. There was no proof before
the Court of any intent to keep this property separate and no
indication from either party that the property was maintained
other than as joint property. This ...