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Porter v. Porter

Supreme Court of Wyoming

June 27, 2017

JEANNE PORTER, Appellant (Plaintiff),
v.
DAVID WAYNE PORTER, Appellee (Defendant).

         Appeal from the District Court of Laramie County The Honorable Catherine R. Rogers, Judge.

          Representing Appellant: Zenith S. Ward of Buchhammer & Ward, P.C., Cheyenne, Wyoming

          Representing Appellee: Linda J. Steiner and Abigail E. Fournier of Steiner Law, LLC, Cheyenne, Wyoming

          Before BURKE, C.J., and HILL, DAVIS, FOX, and KAUTZ, JJ.

          DAVIS, Justice.

         [¶1] Appellant Jeanne Porter (Wife) challenges a divorce decree, asserting that the district court abused its discretion in the division of marital assets, and in denying her alimony. We affirm.

         ISSUES

         [¶2] 1. Did the district court abuse its discretion in its division of the marital property? 2. Was it an abuse of discretion for the district court to deny Wife's request for alimony?

         FACTS

         [¶3] Considering only the evidence in favor of the successful party, ignoring the evidence of the unsuccessful party, and granting the successful party every reasonable inference that can be drawn from the record, see Kamm v. Kamm, 2016 WY 8, ¶ 3, 365 P.3d 779, 780-81 (Wyo. 2016), the facts established at trial are as follows. Wife and Appellee David Porter (Husband) married in 1997. They did not have any children together, although Wife had children from a previous relationship.

         [¶4] Husband worked for the Air National Guard for twenty-three years, and then began working for the Union Pacific Railroad in 2004, where he is still employed. During the marriage he inherited a home from his grandparents, which he then sold. This allowed him to purchase another property on County Road 215A near Cheyenne in 2003. The property, which was titled solely in his name, has a house and a heated shop for car restoration. At the time the divorce complaint was filed, the County Road 215A home was assessed for property tax purposes at approximately $259, 000.00. Husband testified that the mortgage and HELOC on that property totaled roughly $220, 000.00, leaving about $39, 000 in equity.

         [¶5] Wife worked for a respite care company for much of the marriage, but in 2013, she underwent numerous back surgeries and has not worked since.[1] She brought $20, 000.00 into the marriage, and later received a gift of approximately $50, 000.00 from her mother while the parties were still married. Wife used that gift to buy a home titled solely in her name on 18th Street in Cheyenne, and she resided there at the time of the divorce trial. When Wife filed for divorce, she owed approximately $89, 000.00 on the 18th Street property, but by the time of trial she had taken out a Home Equity Line Of Credit (HELOC) on the place and owed a total of $163, 000.000. Consequently, by the time of trial there was little to no equity in this property.

         [¶6] Husband and Wife each owned a number of vehicles, including a 1959 Chevrolet El Camino that both wanted though there was debt associated with it. Wife also had an outstanding credit card balance of $11, 600, and Husband had a truck loan of $72, 000.00 and a credit card balance of $8, 000.

         [¶7] Wife filed for divorce in January of 2015. A few months later she filed a motion for temporary alimony and for funds to pay her attorney fees under Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 20-2-111. After a hearing, the district court denied both motions, finding that ...


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