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Asherman v. Asherman

November 17, 2009

RICHARD E. ASHERMAN, APPELLANT (PLAINTIFF),
v.
ROBYN R. ASHERMAN, APPELLEE (DEFENDANT).



Appeal from the District Court of Park County, The Honorable Steven R. Cranfill, Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kite, Justice

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

[¶1] In 2007, the district court entered a divorce decree, incorporating the parties' Child Custody and Property Settlement Agreement. Later, Robyn Asherman (Wife) filed a motion asking the court to have funds from the sale of a property disbursed in accordance with the agreement. Specifically, she stated that three debts, including the remaining balance on a $155,000 debt on her residence, were to be paid from the proceeds of the sale, after which any remaining funds were to be split equally between the parties. Richard Asherman (Husband) countered that the settlement agreement required that the debt on Wife's residence be paid solely out of her share of the sale proceeds. The district court agreed with Wife and entered an order in her favor. Husband appeals, claiming the district court erred in interpreting the settlement agreement.

[¶2] We affirm.

ISSUE

[¶3] Husband presents the following issue, phrased as a statement, on appeal:

The decision of the trial court that the settlement agreement was clear and unambiguous and should be interpreted as asserted by Appellee was an error of law.

Wife restates the issue as:

Was the trial court correct in concluding that the Child Custody and Property Settlement Agreement, dated July 3, 2007, and incorporated in the July 7, 2007 Divorce Decree, clearly and unambiguously set forth the manner in which the parties were to divide the proceeds from the sale of their Logan Mountain property?

FACTS

[¶4] In resolving the issues in their divorce proceedings, Husband and Wife executed the settlement agreement. When they entered into the agreement, they owned real property including: the Logan Mountain property, which the parties had placed for sale; the Chugwater Drive property, Husband's residence; and the Alpine Avenue property, Wife's residence. Husband had borrowed $155,000 to allow Wife to purchase the Alpine Avenue residence. The relevant provisions of the settlement agreement set over the Chugwater Drive property to Husband and the Alpine Avenue property to Wife. With regard to the Logan Mountain property, they agreed:

The Logan Mountain property has been listed for sale . . . at a price of $699,500.00 and the parties agree to sell the property at a reasonable price mutually agreed upon. Following payments of debt as provided herein, each party is entitled to one-half of remaining net proceeds.

[¶5] Under the "Debts" heading in Paragraph 22 of the settlement agreement, the parties agreed:

A. [Husband] agrees to assume and hereby agrees to pay the following indebtedness and any indebtedness he has incurred since the parties' separation and he further agrees to save and hold [Wife] harmless from any of said debts and to indemnify her ...


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