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Zaloudek v. Zaloudek

November 12, 2009


Appeal from the District Court of Uinta County, The Honorable Nancy J. Guthrie, Judge.

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

Before VOIGT, C.J., and GOLDEN, HILL, KITE, and BURKE, JJ.

[¶1] In this appeal, Kenneth J. Zaloudek challenges the district court's property division. We will affirm.


[¶2] Mr. Zaloudek states his three appeal issues as follows:

1. Did the trial court afford husband fundamental due process in its rulings surrounding the Order on Plaintiff's Motion Regarding Reimbursement of Hay?

2. Is a decree of divorce that simply adopts one party's proposal without offering it for approval to the other party entitled to this Court's deference when it contains unjust and inequitable divisions of property based on defective factual findings?

3. Does the decree of divorce unfairly divide assets and debts without adequate analysis of property division factors and by improperly reaching non-marital assets?

Ms. Zaloudek restates the issue more simply: Did the trial court abuse its discretion in its divorce decree ordering an equitable division of the property?


[¶3] Ms. Zaloudek began working as an airline flight attendant in 1972. Mr. Zaloudek began working as a pilot for the same airline in 1973. They met in 1986 when both were working on the same flight. They began living together later that year in a house owned by Ms. Zaloudek in Georgia. They were married in August of 1990. A short time later, Ms. Zaloudek sold the Georgia property, and the couple built a house in Park City, Utah. They sold the Utah property in 1996, and moved to a home near Evanston, Wyoming. The parties have no children.

[¶4] Ms. Zaloudek filed for divorce in February of 2007. She was still working for the airline, but Mr. Zaloudek had taken early retirement in 2003. Both had accumulated substantial retirement assets, but his were larger because his earnings as a pilot had exceeded those of Ms. Zaloudek as a flight attendant. Near the date of the divorce trial, Mr. Zaloudek's retirement accounts were valued at approximately $1,700,000.00, and he also received pension payments of over $2,000.00 per month. Ms. Zaloudek had a retirement account worth approximately $350,000.00, plus an IRA account worth a little more than $40,000.00. Ms. Zaloudek testified that she intended to keep working and would earn an annual salary of $40,000.00. She estimated that if she retired as of the date of the trial, she would be eligible for a monthly pension benefit of approximately $1,200.00 per month. The couple's net equity in their Evanston property was approximately $530,000.00. The parties owned personal property estimated by one of them to be worth approximately $120,000.00.

[¶5] The couple raised horses, and at one time kept as many as 27 horses on their Evanston property. At the time the divorce was filed, they owned 12 or 13 horses. After filing for divorce and moving to a condominium in Evanston, Ms. Zaloudek took two of the horses and kept them at a boarding facility. In the autumn of 2007, while the divorce was pending, Ms. Zaloudek filed a motion with the district court seeking an order allowing her to remove hay from the Evanston property to feed her horses at the boarding facility. Mr. Zaloudek opposed that motion. The district court held an unreported and unrecorded hearing on the matter. The court did not grant Ms. Zaloudek permission to remove hay from the property but, instead, ordered Mr. Zaloudek to pay Ms. Zaloudek for hay to be purchased from another source. Mr. Zaloudek was ordered to pay her $1,800.00 for hay, an additional $500.00 to reimburse her for miscellaneous horse boarding costs, and $500.00 in attorney's fees, for a total of $2,800.00. The district court indicated that it would "consider the payment" for the hay "in determining the final equitable distribution of property between the parties at the time of trial."

[ΒΆ6] At trial, the parties largely agreed to a division of their personal property. The parties also agreed that the Evanston property should be sold, with the net proceeds divided equally between them. They did not agree on how to divide the retirement assets, and after trial, in accordance with the district court's order, the parties submitted proposed divorce decrees setting forth their separate proposals for dividing the retirement assets. The proposals were detailed and rather complicated, but can be fairly characterized in simple terms. Ms. Zaloudek proposed an equal split of the retirement assets. To achieve an equal division of the property, Mr. Zaloudek would be required to pay Ms. Zaloudek an additional $782,659.17. In contrast, Mr. Zaloudek proposed that he should receive a substantially greater share, based in large part on the fact that each party had accumulated retirement assets before the marriage. He asserted that the pre-marital assets should not be ...

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