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Laughlin v. Laughlin

Supreme Court of Arizona

November 15, 1943

W. H. LAUGHLIN, Appellant,
v.
IDA M. LAUGHLIN, Appellee

APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of the County of Pinal. Levi S. Udall, Judge. Judgment affirmed. =P3030*7

Mr. F. Preston Sult, for Appellant.

Messrs. Dougherty, Chandler & Connor, for Appellee.

OPINION

[61 Ariz. 7] STANFORD, J.

This case comes on appeal from Pinal County, Arizona. It was tried in said county by a visiting Judge, Honorable Levi S. Udall, of Apache County, sitting without a jury. It is a case that took several days to try due to the fact of there being many pieces of property, some in New Mexico and some in Arizona, besides quite a lot of personal property involved. The appellant herein brought his action against the appellee for divorce, and for the custody of the five minor children of the parties hereto, and the appellant asked the court to declare the status of the property and award to him his separate property as alleged, and that the court determine the status of other property and make an equitable division of same. The parties to the action married in 1921 in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Before married she held, as her separate property, a tract of land consisting of 100 acres in New Mexico, and he held as his separate property land also in that state in the amount of 320 acres.

The property involved in this appeal consists of 200 acres of cultivated land in Pinal County, Arizona. It was divided 120 acres to the appellee and 80 acres to the appellant. The children were given, by the judgment of the court, to the appellee, the mother, and the appellant was required to pay the sum of $200 a month for their support. The other property was divided between the appellant and appellee. It is from that portion of the decree declaring the following property to be community property, and the division of the same that this appeal is taken:

[61 Ariz. 8] "East Half (E1/2) of the Northwest Quarter (NW1/4) of Section 28, Township Six (T6S) South, Range Eight (R8E) of the G. and S.R.B. & M.; and the West One Half (W1/2) of the Northeast Quarter (NE1/4) of Sec. 28 Township Six (T6S) South, Range Eight (R8E) East of the S. & S.R.B. & M.; and the West One Half (W1/2) of the East One Half (E1/2) of the Northeast Quarter (NE1/4) of Sec. 28, Township Six (T6S), Range Eight (R8E) East of the G. & S.R.B. & M. Pinal County, Arizona."

The case was heard on the issues formed by the first amended complaint and answer thereto, and defendant's cross complaint and the answer to the same.

By the pleadings of appellant, it is claimed that at the time of the marriage appellant owned, as his separate property,

Page 337

the N1/2, Sec. 9, T. 20 S., R. 37 E., in Lea County, New Mexico; that with the rents, issues and profits of said land plaintiff purchased the SE1/4 of Sec. 20, T. 6 S., R. 8 E., Pinal County, Arizona, known as the Stevenson Place, and also the E1/2 of Sec. 21, T. 7 S., R. 8 E., in Pinal County, known as the Cooper Place. Plaintiff alleges that he owns by reason of the inheritance of his father, another piece of property, the description of which he could not, in his pleadings set forth, located in New Mexico.

The plaintiff further claims that at all times he kept separated from the joint funds of the two parties hereto, the income from the above described lands and maintained a bank account in the First National Bank at Roswell, New Mexico, as depository for funds from the Lea County, New Mexico property, and through which accounts all expenses for the operation of said places were paid, and in a bank at Casa Grande through which all income from the Stevenson and Cooper Places in Pinal County, Arizona, and the New Mexico lands were paid.

The appellant still further claims in his pleadings that, at the time of the marriage, appellee herein [61 Ariz. 9] owned a farm consisting of approximately 100 acres near Fairacres, New Mexico, and when they were married said land of appellee was encumbered in the total sum of $8,000, and by the joint efforts of both of the parties, said mortgage was discharged, but that the appellee, because of such joint efforts in discharging said mortgage, gave unto the appellant a "Declaration of Lien" in the sum of $5,000 and that the appellant duly recorded same.

By the pleadings of the appellee she alleges that at the time of the marriage appellant owned, as claimed by him, the N 1/2 of said Section 9 located in New Mexico, but that he used the money earned from the separate property of this appellee to expend upon said property, and she claims that the work and labor, money and materials the appellant expended in that respect were in excess of $10,000, and that a large part of said $10,000 was money earned from the separate property of appellee.

And, at the time of their marriage, appellee owned, as admitted by appellant, the said 100 acres of land that had two mortgages upon same aggregating $8,000; that said land was productive and that appellant, upon their marriage, moved upon it with the appellee and with her farmed the same for about three years and from such revenue obtained, discharged said mortgages, but that she was compelled, by his insistence, to give the lien referred to, but the same was without any consideration and also the said lien is now barred by the statute of limitation. Appellee alleges that because of the fact that the appellant controlled all of the business affairs and denied her any right to control same, or to know about the expenditures, accounts and books, she does not know the exact status of the various pieces of property held or owned by them, but that she believes and alleges that the property described as the Stevenson [61 Ariz. 10] and Cooper property and the home place of 200 acres in Pinal County, Arizona, is community property.

The final allegation of the appellee in reference to community property is that during the course of the marriage relationship, and particularly during the first ten years thereof, the money earned from the appellee's own property was used to live on and the appellant did save money from his property, and did use some of the same to purchase additional property thereafter, claiming that the additional property was his separate property.

The idea of writing short opinions was ruled out in this case because of the necessity of the foregoing statement by reason of the nature of the case, although the only property involved in this appeal is the 200 acres in one compact body in Pinal County, Arizona, purchased in three parcels at different times and divided by the court, 120 acres to appellee and 80 acres to the appellant.

As to the claims of appellant herein, we quote the following:

"... Our contention in this appeal is that this property takes its status from its acquisition, and if the funds used to acquire title to the property were made from plaintiff's separate funds, the title thereto is separate, and remains so to the present time, charged only with a lien in favor of the community for the amount advanced by the community for the purchase. That state of affairs, would result in the plaintiff's having title to at least fifty percent of said land as his sole and separate property, and the remainder of the property to be community, a fact which was not taken into consideration in dividing the property."

The foregoing contention is supported by the following propositions of law:

Page 338

[61 Ariz. 11] Property purchased with the separate funds of one of the spouses remains the ...


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