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In re Marriage of Helland

Court of Appeals of Arizona, First Division

October 30, 2014

In re the Marriage of: KARA D. HELLAND, Petitioner/Appellant/Cross-Appellee,
v.
STEVEN W. HELLAND, Respondent/Appellee/Cross-Appellant

Appeal from the Superior Court in Navajo County. No. S0900DO201000618. The Honorable Robert B. Van Wyck, Judge Retired.

For Petitioner/Appellant/Cross-Appellee: Thomas M. Quigley, Sherman & Howard LLC, Phoenix.

For Respondent/Appellee/Cross-Appellant: Douglas C. Gardner, Davis Miles McGuire Gardner PLLC, Tempe.

Judge Lawrence F. Winthrop delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Presiding Judge Patricia K. Norris and Judge John C. Gemmill joined.

OPINION

Page 563

[236 Ariz. 198] WINTHROP, Judge

[¶1] Kara D. Helland (Wife) appeals those portions of the superior court's Decree of Dissolution allocating a disability policy purchased by the marital community to Steven W. Helland (Husband) as his separate property. Wife also appeals the superior court's determination that she had not proven waste of the community-owned medical practice. Husband appeals that portion of the decree awarding spousal maintenance to Wife. For the following reasons, we affirm.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

[¶2] Husband and Wife were married in 1989. Husband worked as an anesthesiologist [236 Ariz. 199]

Page 564

 until 2000, when a disability left him unable to perform that occupation. At that time, Husband began receiving benefits pursuant to an " own occupation" disability insurance policy the community purchased in 1995, which pays benefits to Husband because he is no longer able to perform the occupation he held when the community purchased the policy. Thus, Husband received benefits under the policy because he can no longer practice anesthesiology, even though he remained able to practice in other areas of medicine or work in another field. The policy provides a monthly payment to Husband until he reaches the age of sixty-five, does not require Husband to continue to pay policy premiums during his disability, and automatically increases the monthly payments each year. At the time of trial, Husband received $14,984.80 in benefits each month.

[¶3] After Husband's disability, he retrained as a pain management specialist and Husband and Wife established a pain management medical practice in Show Low, Arizona. Wife managed the business. As a result of Husband's unrelated criminal activities, the Arizona Medical Board revoked Husband's medical license in July 2011; thus, he could not continue to operate the medical practice. Before Husband's medical license was revoked, the parties sold the practice and the building in which it operated to another physician for $750,000.

[¶4] Wife filed this dissolution action in November 2010. The superior court conducted a three-day trial concerning the division of community property and spousal maintenance. The court ruled that the income from the disability insurance policy became Husband's sole and separate property when the marriage was terminated by the filing of the dissolution action. The court rejected Wife's argument that Husband's criminal activities constituted waste that destroyed part of the value of the medical practice and denied her request for an equalization payment or credit. The court determined Wife was entitled to spousal maintenance pursuant to Arizona Revised Statutes (" A.R.S." ) section 25-319(A)[1] and awarded her $5,000 per month for seven years.

[¶5] After the superior court ruled on Husband's post-trial motions, Wife timely appealed and Husband timely cross-appealed. We have jurisdiction pursuant to A.R.S. § 12-2101(A)(1).

ISSUES

[¶6] Wife argues the superior court erred as a matter of law in concluding that the benefits received from the disability insurance policy after the termination of the marriage are Husband's sole and separate property. Wife also contends the court abused its discretion by ruling she failed to prove her claim of waste concerning the medical practice.

[¶7] Husband challenges the court's decision to award Wife spousal maintenance. He also challenges the amount and ...


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