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Roach v. Roach

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division I

January 23, 2019






         This is an appeal from a decree of divorce that the Circuit Court of Craighead County entered on March 15, 2017, granting the appellee, Karen Roach, an absolute divorce from the appellant, Donnie Joe Roach (Joe). Joe appeals the decree and raises three arguments for reversal. Karen cross-appeals, arguing that the circuit court failed to divide commercial real property that the couple owned during the marriage. We dismiss the appeal and the cross-appeal without prejudice for lack of a final order.

         Karen and Joe Roach were married on April 19, 1987, while they were college students in Monroe, Louisiana. The couple remained in Louisiana after graduation, whereupon Joe attended pharmacy school and Karen worked as the morning disc jockey at a local radio station. The couple moved to Jonesboro, Arkansas, following Joe's graduation in 1991. Joe worked as a pharmacist at various locations in Jonesboro and Blytheville. Karen worked at a radio station in Arkansas until the couple's first son, John, was born on May 17, 1992. Karen thereafter remained at home to care for John and his three younger siblings.

         In October 2001, the couple purchased a pharmacy business that they would later rename Family Care Pharmacy in Marked Tree, Arkansas. Joe filled prescriptions and managed the business. Karen worked part time as a pharmacy technician and bookkeeper after the couple's youngest child began school in 2005.

         The couple acquired additional property and business interests during their marriage, including Action Medical, a medical-supply store, in Truman, Arkansas. They also purchased several properties, including the commercial buildings where Family Care Pharmacy and Action Medical are located, and several residential properties in Northeast Arkansas and Memphis. One of the properties, located in Jonesboro, was the marital residence when the couple separated on June 10, 2012.

         Karen filed a complaint for divorce on August 10, 2012, alleging general indignities and seeking custody of the couple's two minor children. She also requested child support, alimony, a division of the couple's substantial marital property, and attorney's fees and costs. Joe counterclaimed for divorce on September 10, 2012, also alleging general indignities. He likewise sought custody of the minor children, a division of the marital assets, child support, and attorney's fees and costs.

         On October 9, 2012, the circuit court entered a temporary order that awarded Karen custody of the minor children, child support in the amount of $3, 000 a month, and spousal support in the amount of $2, 000 a month. The court further ordered that Joe shall have visitation with the children, and "each party shall pay one-half of [the children's] medical, dental, orthodontic, optical, and prescription medical expenses" not covered by insurance. Finally, the court ordered that Joe "shall receive all rental income on all rental properties owned by the parties, pendente lite, with an accounting of all income[.]"

         Karen filed a petition for contempt on March 20, 2015. In that petition, Karen alleged that Joe "refused" to pay child support in a timely manner; that he had "engaged in harassing behavior directed toward [Karen]"; that he had "gone outside of his visitation schedule" without Karen's prior knowledge or consent; and that Joe had "failed to provide an accounting of the rental property income as ordered in the Temporary Order[.]"

         Karen's contempt petition remains pending.[1] The circuit court entered an order requiring Joe to appear and show cause at the second phase of the trial on April 22, 2015, and directed the parties to submit posttrial briefs. Although Joe's posttrial brief clearly identified the "contempt issue" as one that must still be resolved, it does not appear that the circuit court ultimately ruled on Karen's petition for contempt. The circuit court does not address the petition for contempt in the letter opinion entered on January 27, 2016, in the decree entered on July 22, 2016, from which this appeal is taken, or in any separate order.

         Otherwise, the circuit court granted Karen a divorce "on the grounds of adultery, general indignities, and eighteen (18) months separation." Regarding the division of property, the decree incorporated a settlement agreement in which Joe and Karen agreed that Joe would retain Family Care Pharmacy and Action Medical and pay Karen for her share of those businesses. The court also ordered the sale of the parties' rental properties, as well as their marital home in Jonesboro, but made no ruling on the couple's commercial real estate business. Finally, the decree ordered the following regarding the assets in Joe and Karen's banking and investment accounts:

The funds in all remaining accounts which have not otherwise been addressed in this Divorce Decree shall be placed in a bank trust account which cannot be accessed without court order and which shall be frozen pending the sale of the parties' properties. Upon the sale of the rental properties, any outstanding mortgage debt shall be paid from the bank trust ...

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