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Forbis v. Forbis

March 19, 2009


Appeal from the District Court of Laramie County The Honorable Edward L. Grant, Judge .

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Golden, Justice.


[¶1] Appellant Katherine J. Allen Forbis (Wife) seeks review of the district court's divorce decree which ended her marriage to Timothy Dale Forbis (Husband). Wife asserts error in the district court's division of the marital property. We affirm.


[¶2] Wife presents these issues for our review:

I. Did the Trial Court abuse its discretion by unilaterally rescinding its award from the Bench to he [sic] Appellant of the $14,000.00 Boat, along with other assets, after the conclusion of the Trial?

II. Did the Trial Court abuse its discretion by failing to award the Appellant a judgment against the Appellee for the $16,000.00 premarital funds she held for her children which were absconded by Appellee during the marriage?


[¶3] The parties were married in July of 2001. This was Wife's second marriage and Husband's third marriage. The parties both owned premarital real property and, shortly after their marriage, they purchased a marital home. During the course of the marriage, Husband operated a real estate management company known as TD Real Estate, LLC, and Wife operated a home repair and remodeling business known as TD Repair, LLC, performing work primarily for TD Real Estate, LLC. The parties also invested in rental real estate through J & F Investments, LLC,*fn1 a business in which Husband and Wife each owned a twenty-five percent interest, and acquired several vehicles and a Crestliner boat.

[¶4] The marriage eventually broke down and, in October 2006, Wife filed a complaint for judicial separation. Husband responded to Wife's complaint and counterclaimed for a divorce. The parties were unable to reach an agreement concerning the marital property, and a bench trial was held on September 24, 2007. At the conclusion of the trial, the district court announced its decision from the bench. Among other things, the district court awarded to Husband the marital home, his premarital home, TD Real Estate, LLC, and two vehicles. The district court awarded to Wife her premarital home, the parties' interest in J & F Investments, LLC, the Crestliner boat, and two vehicles. Two days later, on September 26, the district court sent a letter notifying the parties that it had erred in its oral pronouncement concerning the Crestliner boat. The district court stated that it had intended to award the boat to Husband, instead of Wife. A divorce decree was entered reflecting the district court's decision. Wife timely appealed.


[¶5] The division of marital property is within the trial court's sound discretion. Hall v. Hall, 2005 WY 166, ¶ 5, 125 P.3d 284, 286 (Wyo. 2005); DeJohn v. DeJohn, 2005 WY 140, ¶ 11, 121 P.2d 802, 807 (Wyo. 2005); Hoffman v. Hoffman, 2004 WY 68, ¶ 9, 91 P.3d 922, 925 (Wyo. 2004). We afford the trial court considerable discretion to structure a distribution scheme appropriate to the peculiar circumstances of the case, and we will not disturb its determination absent clear grounds demonstrating that the court abused its discretion. Hoffman, ¶ 9, 91 P.3d at 925. The ultimate question in determining whether an abuse of discretion occurred is whether the trial court could reasonably conclude as it did. Id., ¶ 10, 91 P.3d at 925. We will find an abuse of discretion when the property disposition shocks the conscience of the Court and appears to be so unfair and inequitable that reasonable people could not abide it. Hall, ¶ 5, 125 P.3d at 286; Mann v. Mann, 979 P.2d 497, 500 (Wyo. 1999).


[ΒΆ6] Wife first contends the district court erred in unilaterally rescinding its award of the Crestliner boat to her and awarding it to Husband. Wife asserts that the district court clearly intended, as reflected in its oral pronouncement, that she should have the boat. She claims the district court's subsequent decision to award the boat to Husband was the result of a mistake by the district court concerning the marital assets, and she urges this Court to correct the divorce decree to reflect the district court's oral pronouncement. Husband counters that the district court's decision was not the product of a mistake but was a result of the exercise of sound discretion. Husband further contends the ...

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