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Rawls v. Yarberry

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division III

November 7, 2018



          Sheila F. Campbell, P.A., by: Shelia F. Campbell, for appellant.

          Coplin & Hardy, PLLC, by: Barry E. Coplin and Joei L. Cherry, for appellee.

          BART F. VIRDEN, Judge

         Tarrance Rawls appeals the Pulaski County Circuit Court decision denying his request for rehabilitative alimony. Tarrance also argues that the circuit court incorrectly divided the marital debt and failed to equally divide a bank account with a balance of $40, 000. We affirm.

         I. Relevant Facts

         On October 10, 2016, Brandi Yarberry (Rawls) filed a complaint for divorce from Tarrance Rawls in which she asked the circuit court to decide, among other issues, the property rights and obligations of the parties. The parties have one child, AR, who was born in 2014. Tarrance filed a response and a counterclaim for separate maintenance. A hearing was held on December 21, 2016, and a temporary agreed order was read into the record. In the agreed order, the parties agreed that Tarrance would have exclusive use and possession of the parties' rental home through the end of the lease in June 2017. Tarrance agreed to be responsible for the lease payment and utility bills, and Brandi agreed to pay Tarrance $1, 000 on December 21, 2016, $900 on January 1, 2017, and $900 on January 15, 2017. Beginning February 1, 2017, Brandi agreed to deposit $2, 700 into Tarrance's checking account on the first of each month through the final lease payment in June. The parties agreed that neither party would pay child support and that they would each pay half the cost of daycare. The parties also agreed that they would equally divide any healthcare costs not covered by insurance.

         On March 23, 2017, Brandi filed a motion for contempt in which she alleged that Tarrance had not paid the lease, the utilities, or his half of the daycare expenses as they set forth in the temporary agreed order. On May 1, 2017, Brandi filed a motion for abatement asserting that she should be released from her obligation to make payments to Tarrance.[1]

         The circuit court held a final divorce hearing on September 20, 2017. At the hearing, Brandi explained that when she and Tarrance married in 2014, she earned around $50, 000 a year as a medical resident. Brandi explained that when she finished her residency and started earning more money, Tarrance quit working several side jobs he had taken. She testified that she did not ask him to quit but that they had agreed he was able to quit. Brandi maintained that despite receiving roughly equal incomes during their marriage, she paid more of the bills, and Tarrance spent more money on himself. She explained that they were "often in financial distress, despite all of that, because there was lots of spending on his part."

         Brandi, a child psychiatrist, testified that she is now employed as a contract physician at Pinnacle Pointe Hospital. She explained that because she is a contract physician no taxes are taken out of her paycheck, and she deposits 30 percent of each paycheck into a "tax account." Brandi's net monthly income is $13, 891.71. Brandi testified that she pays $970 a month for rent, she plans to start depositing $1, 500 a month in a 401k retirement account, and she pays $700 a month for health insurance for her and AR. Brandi testified that she had not started making payments on her student-loan debt; however, she and Tarrance had planned that she would begin doing so in 2018 and that her student-loan payment would be $5, 000 a month. She testified that she has two student loans-one for $16, 948 and one for $368, 839. Brandi testified that she owes Cynthia Rawls $3, 500 in loan repayment, and she owes $4, 000 in repayment to her grandmother. Brandi testified that her credit-card debt is around $5, 500 on one card, $1, 600 on a second card, and $500 on a third. She owes $1, 200 for her work computer.

         Brandi testified that Tarrance owned four cars during the marriage. When the parties married, Tarrance owned a truck. Soon after they were married, he upgraded to a Lexus SUV. Brandi owned a small Lexus coupe, but she replaced that car with Tarrance's Lexus SUV so that Tarrance could buy a GMC Yukon. Brandi testified that after he purchased the Yukon, Tarrance bought his dream car, a BMW 650i convertible. Brandi stated that she had felt bullied by Tarrance and that she signed the note for the BMW against her financial advisor's advice. Brandi explained that Tarrance had promised that the purchase of the BMW would not affect their finances and that he would work a side job if necessary to make the payments.

         Brandi testified that RPM Management Co. is pursuing $6, 542.61 in unpaid rent against both her and Tarrance. Brandi explained that Tarrance did not pay the rent on their marital home despite their agreement that she would pay him her share for the remainder of the lease agreement and that he would make the payment to the leasing agent. Tarrance told Brandi that he wanted to buy the rental house, and though she doubted his ability to do so, that was the arrangement. Tarrance stopped making payments on the lease in March even though it did not expire until June. Brandi also explained that Tarrance did not pay for daycare as they had agreed and that she would like the court to order him to pay the $2, 150 he owes her. Brandi listed about $150 in dental and doctor bills for AR that Tarrance did not pay. Brandi testified about various utility bills, overdrawn accounts, taxes, and cable bills that Tarrance did not pay and that she paid to keep her credit rating from being negatively affected. Brandi explained that she paid the $1, 300 tax on Tarrance's Yukon because the DMV would not let her register her car until that debt was paid, and she requested reimbursement for that payment.

         Brandi clarified that the decision to file their taxes separately was one they made together to limit the financial impact of her student loan debt on their family. Brandi testified that Tarrance did not like the decision, and he did not want to meet with the financial advisor to discuss the matter as she suggested, but he agreed to file separately. Brandi explained that she encouraged Tarrance to file his taxes, and he chose not to.

         Tarrance testified that he had been a police officer for fifteen years and that he hoped to become a detective. Tarrance stated that his biweekly net income is $1, 650.19. Tarrance testified that Brandi had asked him not to file his taxes and that she had told him that she would help him pay the debt at a later time. He estimated that he owes $7, 000 in delinquent taxes. Tarrance stated that he paid $800 a month in rent to live in his mother's home, but he did not provide proof of payment of rent. He maintained that he paid $475 a month in childcare costs for both AR and a child from a previous relationship, but he did not provide proof of that expense either. As for AR's childcare, he explained that he stopped paying after having made four payments. Tarrance testified that the temporary agreed order concerning the lease and utility bills set forth that he would be responsible for making those payments; however, he asserted that because Brandi was late paying him her portion of the lease one time, the lease payment was late, and RPM refused to accept payment. Tarrance stated that he spent Brandi's half of the lease payments, in total $10, 900, on "rent and monthly household expenses." Tarrance ...

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