COLLEEN M. MEINERS, Appellant (Defendant),
ALEXANDRA MEINERS, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Theodore Meiners, Appellee (Plaintiff).
from the District Court of Teton County The Honorable Timothy
C. Day, Judge
Representing Appellant: Robert E. Schroth, Sr., Schroth &
Schroth, LLC, Jackson, Wyoming.
Representing Appellee: Matthew E. Turner, Geittmann Larson
Swift LLP, Jackson, Wyoming.
DAVIS, C.J., and FOX, KAUTZ, BOOMGAARDEN, and GRAY, JJ.
The Appellant, Colleen M. Meiners, appeals the district
court's order enforcing the terms of her divorce decree
at the request of her late ex-husband, Theodore
"Theo" Meiners' estate. Colleen argues the district
court should have modified the terms of the divorce
settlement agreement and the resulting divorce decree, failed
to apply laches, and failed to award her storage fees and
mortgage contributions. We affirm.
Colleen raises the following issues in her appeal:
1. May parties to a Divorce Decree under certain
circumstances modify the terms of their settlement agreement
which was merged into the Divorce Decree?
2. Did the District Court err when it refused to follow the
law as set forth by the Wyoming Supreme Court in Acton v.
Acton[, ] 2017 WY 151, 406 P.3d 1279 (Wyo. 2017)?
3. Can the Doctrine of Laches be asserted as a defense to the
enforcement of a provision in the the [sic] property division
in a Divorce Decree?
4. Did the District Court err by not giving [Colleen] credit
for rental of storage space by Theodore Meiners?
5. Did the District Court err when it denied [Colleen]
contribution from the Estate of Theodore Meiners for mortgage
payments that were made by Appellant Colleen Meiners, from
the date Appellant Colleen Meiners and Theodore Meiners
became tenants in common?
This matter is before the Court for a third time. In
Meiners v. Meiners, 2016 WY 74, 376 P.3d 493 (Wyo.
2016), we gave a thorough rendition of the facts, relevant
portions of which are:
Theodore (Theo) Meiners and Colleen Meiners (collectively
"the Meiners") married in 1989. They each had one
child from prior relationships, and they had one child
together who was born in 1989. In 2001, the Meiners
separated, and in 2002 they executed a Child Custody and
Property Settlement Agreement (Divorce Agreement). The
Divorce Agreement gave Colleen Meiners primary custody of the
couple's child and Theo Meiners reasonable visitation.
Theo Meiners was to pay child support in the amount of
$375.00 per month until the child reached the age of majority
in April 2007. The agreement specified that Theo Meiners
would be entitled to all his personal property being stored
in the garage of the couple's residence and that he would
remove that property by January 23, 2002. With respect to the
couple's real property, which consisted only of their
residence, the Divorce Agreement provided:
The parties['] real property located at 25 Aspen Drive
will be sold to Wife under the following terms and
a. The purchase price shall be one half the fair market value
as determined by an independent appraiser agreed to by the
parties, which has been determined to be $285, 000.00, less
six percent (6%) sales commission, and less all outstanding
taxes, mortgages and liens on the property;
b. Wife shall pay to Husband one half the net equity in the
property as of August 30, 2001. Payment shall be due and
payable when the property is sold or upon the emancipation of
the parties' minor son, [AM].
c. There shall be no monthly payments, however the purchase
price shall accrue interest at the rate of six percent (6%)
simple interest per annum.
d. Wife shall receive as a credit toward the purchase price
the sum of $2, 460.00 which represents back child support
owed by Husband as of August 30, 2001.
e. Husband shall execute all documents necessary to effect a
transfer of title and ownership to Wife, as her sole and
separate property, as may be required by any governmental
entity, financial institution, or lender; f. Wife shall
execute all documents necessary to protect Husband's
security interest in the real property located at 25 Aspen
After executing the Divorce Agreement, the Meiners had second
thoughts about divorcing and did not file the Divorce
Agreement in district court, though a divorce complaint had
already been filed with the court. Between 2001 and 2007,
Theo Meiners resided part of the year in Alaska, where he had
a heli-skiing business, and part of the year in Jackson with
Colleen Meiners. In 2007, the district court notified the
Meiners that their divorce complaint would be dismissed for
lack of prosecution if no action was taken on the matter, and
the Meiners then decided to proceed with their divorce. On
July 20, 2007, the Divorce Agreement was filed with the
court, and on that same day, the district court entered a
Decree of Divorce.
After the divorce decree was entered in 2007, the Meiners
continued to have a good relationship and live as they had
prior to their divorce, with Theo Meiners residing part of
the year in Alaska and part of the year in Jackson with
Colleen Meiners. In 2010, the Meiners refinanced the
residence at 25 Aspen Drive, executing the necessary
documents as husband and wife. Neither Theo Meiners nor
Colleen Meiners followed the terms of the Divorce Agreement
before or after their divorce.
On September 20, 2012, Theo Meiners died, and on November 7,
2012, his daughter, Alexandra Meiners, was appointed as
personal representative of his estate. On October 7, 2013,
Alexandra Meiners, on behalf of the estate, filed a complaint
against Colleen Meiners alleging claims of breach of
contract, unjust enrichment, enforcement of divorce decree,
and slander of title. The breach of contract claim sought
enforcement of the Divorce Agreement and in particular the
agreement's real property division requiring Colleen
Meiners to pay Theo Meiners one-half the net equity in the
property located at 25 Aspen Drive, plus interest, based on
the property's 2001 appraised value.
On November 7, 2013, Colleen Meiners filed an answer and
counterclaim. She alleged numerous affirmative defenses,
including laches and waiver, and asserted a counterclaim for
breach of contract by which she sought damages for Theo
Meiners' breach of the Divorce Agreement. Specifically,
Colleen Meiners alleged that Theo Meiners breached the
Divorce Agreement by: failing to remove his personal items
from the property located at 25 Aspen Drive; failing to pay
child support; failing to pay any ...