ESTATE OF JACK WINFORD WEEKS, by and through its Personal Representative, Linda Rehm, Appellant (Plaintiff),
JUDY WEEKS-ROHNER, Appellee (Defendant).
from the District Court of Carbon County The Honorable Wade
E. Waldrip, Judge.
Representing Appellant: Holli J. Welch and Tara B.
Nethercott, Woodhouse Roden Nethercott, LLC, Cheyenne,
Wyoming. Argument by Ms. Welch.
Representing Appellee: James R. Salisbury, The Salisbury
Firm, P.C., Cheyenne, Wyoming.
DAVIS, C.J., and BURKE [*] , FOX, KAUTZ, and BOOMGAARDEN, JJ.
J., delivers the opinion of the Court; DAVIS, C.J., files a
Jack Weeks and Judy Weeks-Rohner divorced in 1984. Their
divorce decree directed that their jointly owned Sinclair,
Wyoming home would remain in Mr. Weeks' possession,
subject to a trust for their minor son, Shawn Weeks. Mr.
Weeks retained possession of the Sinclair property, but the
required trust was never formed.
In 2012, Shawn Weeks died at the age of thirty-three, and in
2015 Jack Weeks died. In 2016, the Estate of Jack Winford
Weeks filed a quiet title action against Ms. Weeks-Rohner,
asserting adverse possession of the Sinclair property. Ms.
Weeks-Rohner counterclaimed, contending that the 1984 divorce
decree governed disposition of the property and asking that
the district court enforce the decree by quieting title to
the property in Shawn Weeks and/or his heirs. On dispositive
motions, the district court ruled generally in favor of Ms.
Weeks-Rohner, and the Estate appeals. We affirm.
We restate the issues on appeal as:
1. Did the district court err in ruling that the Estate
failed to make the showing required for an adverse possession
claim against Ms. Weeks-Rohner?
2. Did the district court err in ruling that Ms.
Weeks-Rohner's counterclaim for enforcement of the decree
3. Did the district court act within its authority to enforce
the 1984 divorce decree when it ordered the parties to place
the Sinclair property in a trust for the benefit of Shawn
Weeks and subject to his probate proceedings?
4. Did the district court err in ruling that a motion to
dismiss filed by the Estate was untimely?
Jack Weeks and Judy Weeks-Rohner were married on February 16,
1982 and divorced on February 28, 1984. When they divorced
they had one child, Shawn Daniel Weeks. Their 1984 divorce
decree awarded Ms. Weeks-Rohner custody of Shawn Weeks during
the school year, and Mr. Weeks had the child during the
summer, with each having liberal visitation when the other
had custody. The decree ordered Mr. Weeks to pay $175 per
month for child support, including during the summer months,
with those payments due on the first day of each month.
The divorce decree also addressed disposition of the
parties' property, both real and personal. The provision
central to the present dispute directed:
3. The following property, real and personal, shall be
subject to a trust established for the parties' minor
child, Shawn Daniel Weeks:
a. Savings bonds;
c. Colorado property;
d. Residence located at [street address omitted], Sinclair,
Wyoming, including other half lot.
A professional trustee shall be named to administer said
The defendant [Mr. Weeks] shall have possession of the
Sinclair residence beginning February 1, 1984 and shall be
responsible for making all mortgage payments on the property
for so long as the property remains subject to the trust. In
the event that the Sinclair property is rented to a third
party, and the rental payments do not cover the mortgage
payments, the defendant shall be responsible for making up
the difference. In the further event that the rental payments
exceed the amount of the mortgage payments, any monies in
excess of the mortgage payment shall be placed in the trust.
The trustee, plaintiff [Ms. Weeks-Rohner] and defendant shall
comprise a management board to manage Shaughnessy's. The
trustee has an absolute veto over votes cast by plaintiff and
The defendant shall be responsible for maintaining the
Sinclair property in good repair for so long as the property
remains subject to the trust.
In 1986, Ms. Weeks-Rohner, through her divorce attorney,
asked a Cheyenne bank to set up the trust and serve as
trustee. The bank declined through its trust officer, stating
that administrative expenses would annually reduce the corpus
of the trust, and that the real estate in the trust would
have expenses for taxes, insurance and maintenance making the
administration of the trust difficult.
Neither Mr. Weeks nor Ms. Weeks-Rohner ever attempted to set
up the trust again, and it was never established. On March
30, 2012, Shawn Weeks died, and on March 23, 2015, Mr. Weeks
died. Mr. Weeks retained possession of the Sinclair property
until his death, and the property remained titled in the
names of both Mr. Weeks and Ms. Weeks-Rohner.
In 2014, Shawn Weeks' estate filed suit against Jack
Weeks (before Jack Weeks died), making claims about the same
real estate. Shortly thereafter those parties stipulated that
the case would be dismissed pursuant to WRCP 41(a)(1).
A year later, in January 2016, Mr. Weeks' estate filed a
quiet title action against Ms. Weeks-Rohner asserting a claim
for adverse possession of the Sinclair property. Ms.
Weeks-Rohner responded with an amended answer and
counterclaim which asserted claims for quiet title,
constructive trust, promissory estoppel, and declaratory
judgment. With each claim, Ms. Weeks-Rohner sought
enforcement of the 1984 divorce decree and to quiet title to
the Sinclair property in Shawn Weeks and/or his estate and
Mr. Weeks' Estate then filed a motion for summary
judgment on its adverse possession claim and a motion to
dismiss Ms. Weeks-Rohner's counterclaims. By its motion
to dismiss, the Estate asserted: (1) Ms. Weeks-Rohner's
quiet title claim was barred by the ten-year statute of
limitations for recovery of real property; (2) the divorce
decree's trust provision was an unenforced child support
judgment that was dormant and could no longer be revived or
enforced; (3) Ms. Weeks-Rohner could not establish the
elements of a constructive trust; (4) Ms. Weeks-Rohner could
not establish the elements of promissory estoppel; (5) Ms.
Weeks-Rohner lacked standing to bring a declaratory judgment
action; and (6) Ms. Weeks-Rohner's declaratory judgment
action was barred by the four-year statute of limitations on
such actions. Ms. Weeks-Rohner opposed the motion to dismiss
and filed her own summary judgment motion on her quiet title
and declaratory judgment claims.
Because the Estate attached materials outside the pleadings
to its motion to dismiss, the district court converted it to
a summary judgment motion. In ruling on the cross-motions for
summary judgment, the district court found that: 1) after
their divorce, Mr. Weeks and Ms. Weeks-Rohner owned the
Sinclair property as tenants in common; 2) Ms. Weeks-Rohner
was not in possession of the Sinclair property and therefore
could not bring a quiet title action; 3) the Estate failed to
make the elevated showing required for a co-tenant adverse
possession claim; 4) neither party's claims were
time-barred; 5) the divorce decree's trust provision was
not a child support judgment and therefore not a judgment
subject to statutory dormancy and revival requirements; 6)
the district court had jurisdiction to enforce the 1984
divorce decree; and 7) questions of fact precluded the
Estate's motion for summary judgment on Ms.
Weeks-Rohner's constructive trust and promissory estoppel
Based on those findings, the district court concluded:
Decedent and Defendant have never been relieved from their
agreement and court-ordered obligation to place the Sinclair
residence into a trust for the benefit of their son. The
relevant provisions of the 1984 Decree of Divorce
remains [sic] enforceable, and declaratory judgment at this
summary judgment stage is appropriate in Defendant's
favor to enforce the pertinent provisions of the divorce
The Court will quiet title to the Sinclair property with
Decedent (now his estate) and Defendant each owning an
undivided one-half interest as tenants in common. See
Choman v. Epperley, 592 P.2d 714, 718 (Wyo. 1979)
(noting that a tenancy by the entirety reverts to a tenancy
in common upon divorce). Additionally, the Court will declare
the 1984 Decree of Divorce is not dormant and order
the parties to abide by the provisions governing the Sinclair
Defendant's request for summary judgment on her
declaratory judgment claim is granted, and the Court will
enforce the portions of the 1984 Decree of Divorce requiring
the parties to place the Sinclair property into a trust for
the benefit of Shawn Daniel Weeks (and now becoming subject
to Shawn Weeks' probate action).
Ms. Weeks-Rohner's remaining claims for constructive
trust and promissory estoppel were set for a bench trial
scheduled for May 2, 2017. On the morning of May 2, 2017,
however, the Estate filed another motion to dismiss. This
motion asserted Ms. Weeks-Rohner's counterclaims must be
dismissed because she failed to join an indispensable party,
Shawn Weeks' estate. The motion also asserted that Ms.
Weeks-Rohner's counterclaims were barred by res judicata
and laches. The district court continued the trial and took
the Estate's second motion to dismiss under advisement.
Shortly thereafter, the district court issued an order
denying the Estate's motion to dismiss. It found the
motion to be untimely, but it also addressed the merits and
denied it on that basis as well. The parties then filed a
stipulated motion to dismiss Ms. Weeks-Rohner's claims
for constructive trust and promissory estoppel with
prejudice, and the district court issued an order granting
the stipulated dismissal. The Estate filed a timely notice of
appeal to this Court.
The dispositive issues in this matter require that we review
the district court's summary judgment rulings. Our review
is as follows:
We review a district court's order granting summary
judgment de novo and afford no deference to the
district court's ruling. Thornock v. PacifiCorp,
2016 WY 93, ¶ 10, 379 P.3d 175, 179 (Wyo. 2016). This
Court reviews the same materials and uses the same legal
standard as the district court. Id. The record is
assessed from the vantage point most favorable to the party
opposing the motion, and we give a party opposing summary
judgment the benefit of all favorable inferences that may
fairly be drawn from the record. Id. A material fact