In re the Marriage of: TIMOTHY EDWARD BROWN, Petitioner/Appellee/Cross-Appellant,
KATHLEEN JEANNINE DOONER, Respondent/Appellant/Cross-Appellee.
Not for Publication – Rule 111(c), Rules of the Arizona Supreme Court
Appeal from the Superior Court in Maricopa County No. FN2011-090209 The Honorable Teresa A. Sanders, Judge
Chism Brown Law, Scottsdale By Christy C. Brown Counsel for Petitioner/Appellee/Cross-Appellant.
Padish & Wells, PLLC, Scottsdale By Kellie N. Wells Counsel for Respondent/Appellant/Cross-Appellee.
Presiding Judge Peter B. Swann authored the decision of the Court, in which Judge Patricia K. Norris and Judge Samuel A. Thumma joined.
PETER B. SWANN PRESIDING JUDGE
¶1 Kathleen Jeannine Dooner ("Wife") and Timothy Edward Brown ("Husband") appeal and cross-appeal, respectively, from several property awards in the decree dissolving their marriage. We hold that the superior court erred by delegating its obligation to decide the character of funds in Husband's retirement account and by finding that Husband was not entitled to an equalization payment for separate property he expended to pay for Wife's health insurance coverage. Finding no other reversible error, we affirm in part, and reverse and remand in part.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
¶2 Husband and Wife married in 2003. In 2011, Husband filed a petition for dissolution of the marriage. The parties then divided much of their property by written agreement under ARFLP 69. At trial, the parties' disputes were limited to the distribution of an engagement ring, an individual retirement account and a savings account, possession of a dog, and the propriety of equalization payments to Husband for Wife's alleged waste of community property and Husband's payment of health insurance premiums and rent.
¶3 After considering the evidence, the superior court awarded the engagement ring to Husband and the dog to Wife, ordered equal division of the funds remaining in the savings account as of the date of trial, and ordered equal division of the community interest in the retirement account. The court further ordered that the division of the retirement account would be effected by a qualified domestic relations order ("QDRO") or the parties' agreement. It ruled that the entire account would be presumed to be community property unless the value of Husband's premarital contributions to the account could be discerned after trial by the attorney tasked with preparing the QDRO. The court also found that Husband was not entitled to any equalization payments, and ordered both parties to bear their own attorney's fees and costs.
¶4 The court entered a decree of dissolution that incorporated its findings and the parties' ARFLP 69 agreements. Wife timely filed a notice of appeal and Husband timely filed a notice of cross-appeal.
I. WIFE'S APPEAL
¶5 Wife contends that the superior court erred by awarding the engagement ring to Husband, by failing to decide the community interest in the retirement account, and by denying her request for attorney's fees ...