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Roberts v. Locke

Supreme Court of Wyoming

June 17, 2013

AMY C. ROBERTS, Appellant (Plaintiff),
v.
STEVEN LOCKE, Appellee (Defendant).

Appeal from the District Court of Albany County The Honorable Jeffrey A. Donnell, Judge

Representing Appellant: Wendy S. Ross and Mary T. Parsons of Parsons & Associates, P.C., Cheyenne, Wyoming

Representing Appellee: Megan L. Hayes and Allen Gardzelewski of Corthell and King, P.C., Laramie, Wyoming

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

DAVIS, Justice.

[¶1] Appellant Amy Roberts and Appellee Steven Locke divorced in mid-July of 2010. Among their marital assets was a beachfront property in Costa Rica. After a trial, the district court ordered the property sold and the proceeds divided, and later held Roberts in contempt for impeding the sale. She now appeals that order. We affirm.

ISSUES

[¶2] Roberts asks this Court to consider two questions, which we restate as follows:

1. Did the district court have jurisdiction to order Roberts to convey the Costa Rican property to Locke so that he could sell it, with the proceeds of sale to be distributed as provided in the divorce decree?
2. Did the district court abuse its discretion when it found Roberts in civil contempt of court?

In addition, Locke asks us to determine that Roberts lacked reasonable cause for her appeal, and to award him the costs and fees he has expended in responding.

FACTS

[¶3] On September 24, 2009, Roberts filed a complaint for divorce against Locke in the Second Judicial District Court for Albany County in Laramie, Wyoming. The parties are tenured professors at the University of Wyoming. Roberts asked the court to equitably divide the assets and debts she and Locke had accumulated during their twenty-three year marriage. Chief among those assets were a Smith Barney investment account, a plot of land and a house in Indiana, what had been the marital home in Laramie, and a beachfront property in Costa Rica, on which they had built a house and apartments. Their debts, including one against the Smith Barney account, largely related to their credit financing of the purchase and improvement of their real property.

[ΒΆ4] In a pretrial statement, Locke proposed that the district court order the Indiana property sold, and require that the proceeds be used first to retire the debt on that property, and then to compensate him for his premarital investment in the property, with any remainder of the sale price to be divided evenly between the parties. He also asked that the decree allow him to retain the Laramie home and require him to pay the mortgage and other debt associated with it. He further proposed that the court order the Costa Rican property to be sold, require the proceeds to be used to pay off the Smith Barney debt related to that ...


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