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Campbell v. Hein

Supreme Court of Wyoming

October 17, 2013

Thomas P. CAMPBELL, Appellant (Petitioner),
v.
Tammie J. HEIN, f/n/a Tammie J. Campbell, Appellee (Respondent).

Page 166

Representing Appellant: Christopher M. Wages of Goddard, Wages & Vogel, Buffalo, WY.

Representing Appellee: Brooke M. Barney of Barney & Graham, LLC, Sheridan, WY.

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

HILL, Justice.

[¶ 1] Thomas Campbell (Husband) and Tammie Hein (Wife) were divorced in 2008 pursuant to a stipulated Property Settlement, Child Custody, Child Support Agreement. In 2010, Husband petitioned to reopen the Decree of Divorce, alleging that Wife had misrepresented material facts related to the parties' division of debt. The district court denied Husband's petition, and Husband appeals. We affirm.

ISSUE

[¶ 2] Husband states the issue on appeal as follows:

Whether the District Court erred when it entered its Order Denying Petition to Reopen Decree of Divorce and Counterclaim, dated November 30, 2012, and denied Defendant's Petition to Reopen Decree of Divorce.

FACTS

[¶ 3] Husband and Wife were married in 1992 and separated in 2007. In December 2007, Husband and Wife met to discuss a divorce settlement and, in particular, division of the marital debts. From that meeting, the parties created a list of the marital debts, which included two loans from Wife's parents, Bill and Anita Wirth, and a loan from Wife's sister, Sherri Wirth. The balances owed on the loans from Wife's parents were $30,000.00 and $25,688.00. Husband and Wife agreed to divide the first loan from Wife's parents evenly, with each party responsible for $15,000.00 of the debt. With respect to the second loan from Wife's parents, they agreed that Husband would be responsible for $18,188.00 of the debt and Wife would be responsible for $7,500.00. The loan from Wife's sister was in the amount of $12,118.00, and Wife agreed to be responsible for that debt. The loans identified as loans from Wife's family were all loans made to Husband and Wife to help pay off debt incurred during their marriage.

[¶ 4] On October 8, 2008, Wife filed a Complaint for Divorce in the Fourth Judicial District Court, Sheridan County. The Complaint incorporated and attached a Property Settlement, Child Custody, Child Support Agreement (Agreement), signed by both Husband and Wife. The Agreement incorporated a document entitled " Debt Summary," which divided between Husband and Wife over $267,000.00 in marital debt. Included in the Debt Summary were the debts owed to Wife's parents and sister, and the summary allocated responsibility for those debts in the manner previously agreed upon by the parties. On December 3, 2008, the district court entered a Decree of Divorce, which incorporated the terms of the parties' Agreement, including the stipulated Debt Summary.

[¶ 5] On June 16, 2010, Husband filed a petition to reopen the divorce decree pursuant to Rule 60(b) of the Wyoming Rules of Civil Procedure and Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 1-16-401. As grounds for reopening, Husband alleged that Wife intentionally misrepresented material facts concerning the parties' division of debts at the time the divorce decree was entered. In particular, Husband alleged

Page 167

that Wife made misrepresentations concerning the debt owed to her sister and concerning a vehicle loan. Husband asserted that Wife's fraud and/or misrepresentations caused him to accept responsibility for substantially more debt than he should have been allocated and resulted in an unfair and unjust judgment.

[¶ 6] On November 27, 2012, an evidentiary hearing was held on Husband's petition. Although it is not clear from the record when or how it occurred, at some point in the proceedings, Husband's claim regarding the vehicle loan was resolved or otherwise disposed of and Husband added claims regarding the two loans from Wife's parents. Thus, at the evidentiary hearing, the debts at issue were the loans from Wife's family— the two loans from Wife's parents and the loan from Wife's sister. With regard to the loan from Wife's sister, Husband claimed that Wife's sister never loaned Wife money and that the money at issue was in fact a gift from David Hein, the man Wife would eventually marry after divorcing Husband. With regard to the two loans from Wife's parents, Husband alleged that Wife lied about the existence of the loans and claimed that no amount was owed to Wife's parents.

[¶ 7] On November 30, 2012, the court issued an order denying Husband's petition to reopen the divorce decree.[1] In so ruling, the court stated:

Much of the evidence presented related to debt owed by the parties to Respondent's parents. This debt was disputed, and evidence exists that a promissory note alleged to have been signed by Respondent was not really signed by her. However, this does not rise to a level sufficient enough to reopen the decree. Rather, the existence of the debt is disputed, ...

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