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Ballegeer v. Ballegeer

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division IV

May 15, 2019

Holly BALLEGEER, Appellant
v.
Craig BALLEGEER, Appellee

Page 67

          APPEAL FROM THE CRAWFORD COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 17DR-15-497], HONORABLE MICHAEL MEDLOCK, JUDGE

         Gean, Gean & Gean, Fort Smith, by: Roy Gean III, for appellant.

         Kevin L. Hickey, Fort Smith, for appellee.

         OPINION

         ROBERT J. GLADWIN, Judge

Page 68

          Holly Ballegeer appeals the Crawford County Circuit Court’s decree of divorce, which divides the marital business and personal property between appellee Craig Ballegeer and her. Holly argues that the circuit court’s decree is clearly erroneous because (1) the division of the marital business requires her to compete with Craig in a bidding process; (2) Craig is not required to compensate her for one-half of the sale proceeds of marital property that he sold during the pendency of the litigation; (3) the corporate account is not divided equally between the parties; (4) she was denied attorney’s fees or fees for her expert witness; and (5) the Can Am is awarded to Craig rather than ordered sold with the proceeds divided between the parties. We reverse and remand in part and affirm in part.

          I. Facts and Procedural History

          The parties were married on July 2, 1983, and began a business in 1997 called Groundskeeper, Inc., which acts as the contractor for landscaping and maintenance for several fast-food corporations. Groundskeeper collects the revenue from the corporations and pays the subcontractors for their labor. For a time during their marriage, Craig ran the business, and Holly was the bookkeeper. However, by the time of their separation in 2016, Holly worked at a retail store earning $ 8 an hour and continues to do so. In September 2015, Craig filed for separate maintenance, and Holly counterclaimed for divorce. Craig dismissed his separate-maintenance complaint but filed an amended complaint for divorce on September 26, 2016.

          After a final hearing on June 12, 2017, the circuit court filed a letter ruling dated August 29, 2017, awarding Holly a divorce on her counterclaim and ordering that the marital home be sold. Each party was awarded his and her personal automobile with any attached debt, and other property was ordered to be sold with the proceeds equally divided. Each was awarded the furniture and personal items in his and her possession, and any personal property not divided by agreement or otherwise in the letter order was to be sold and the proceeds divided equally. The court stated, "Any remaining items under paragraph ‘C’ of [Holly’s] Exhibit 1 shall be sold." Craig was ordered to pay Holly $ 2200 a month in alimony for five years. The court further ordered that Groundskeeper was valued at $ 183,000 "for one-half interest" and that the parties would divide the business as follows:

[Craig] shall have the first right to buy [Holly’s] interest in the business at the price of $ 183,000.00. If refused, [Holly] shall have the next right to buy the business at that price. The value shall then decrease in $ 5,000.00 increments until one party exercises the right to buy which shall be accompanied by an earnest money check in the amount of 10% of the purchase amount which shall be deposited in the trust account of the attorney of the party who is the seller. The full price shall be paid within thirty (30) days and deposited again in the attorney’s trust account for the party representing the seller. These funds after closing and full payment shall be paid to the party who is the seller. The

Page 69

tax debt shall be assumed by the party purchasing the business, and shall be that party’s responsibility.

          The divorce decree was filed October 5, 2017, and the division of the marital business followed the court’s letter ruling. The division of property was more specifically set forth as follows:

[Craig] is hereby awarded all right, title, and interest in his clothing, personal effects, and jewelry. [Holly] is hereby awarded all right, title, and interest in her clothing, personal effects, and jewelry. ...

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