from the District Court of Campbell County The Honorable John
R. Perry, Judge
Representing Appellant: Bernard Q. Phelan, Phelan Law Office,
Representing Appellee: Kathryn J. Edelman, Edelman Law
Office, Gillette, Wyoming.
DAVIS, C.J., and FOX, KAUTZ, BOOMGAARDEN, and GRAY, JJ.
Melinda and Steven Conzelman married in 2015 and filed for
divorce two years later. In bifurcated proceedings, the
district court entered a Decree of Divorce and later ordered
the division of the marital property with each party
essentially receiving their premarital assets. Ms. Conzelman,
the Appellant, contends the district court abused its
discretion when it denied her second motion for a continuance
of the trial. She also claims the property division
improperly punishes her for fault. We affirm.
the district court abuse its discretion when it denied Ms.
Conzelman's motion for a continuance of the divorce
the district court improperly consider fault in making a
division of property?
Steven Conzelman and Melinda Conzelman met in 2014 through an
online dating website. Both parties had been previously
married-Mr. Conzelman once, and Ms. Conzelman four times.
Both parties had grown children, and both had separately
acquired assets. When they met, Ms. Conzelman lived in
Florida, and Mr. Conzelman lived in Gillette, Wyoming. As
their relationship progressed, Ms. Conzelman relocated to
Wyoming. Mr. Conzelman paid for her moving expenses ($4000),
debt on her vehicle ($3400), and to resolve her outstanding
legal issues ($6000).
The parties married on March 5, 2015. The relationship
quickly turned rocky, and on May 1, 2017, Ms. Conzelman
petitioned in circuit court for an order of protection
against Mr. Conzelman, claiming physical abuse. Two days
after Ms. Conzelman filed for the protection order, Mr.
Conzelman filed for divorce in district court. On May 11,
2017, the circuit court granted Ms. Conzelman a protection
order and directed Mr. Conzelman to pay Ms. Conzelman $3000
monthly spousal support through May 11, 2018. It also ordered
Mr. Conzelman to provide Ms. Conzelman an insurance card
allowing her to continue receiving benefits under his
existing coverage. In July 2017, the circuit court lowered
Mr. Conzelman's spousal support payments to $1800 a month
due to Mr. Conzelman's changed employment status and
ordered an additional $200 per month from the parties'
joint rental income be paid to Ms. Conzelman.
The divorce trial was set for October 6, 2017. The district
court issued its case management order on June 13, 2017,
establishing deadlines for the designation of witnesses and
identification of exhibits. Ms. Conzelman hired an attorney
and filed her answer and counterclaim on May 31, 2017,
claiming to be the aggrieved party. Shortly thereafter, her
attorney died. Ms. Conzelman found another attorney and that
attorney entered an appearance on July 6, 2017.
Both parties actively participated in the pretrial
proceedings. Mr. Conzelman was granted occupation of the
marital home beginning on June 27, 2017. In July 2017, Ms.
Conzelman filed a Motion for Order for Financial Affidavits
and Motion for Appraisal of the Marital Residence which the
district court set for a hearing. In August, Ms.
Conzelman's request for a continuance of the trial to
April 16, 2018, was granted. In September, Ms.
Conzelman's second attorney moved to withdraw, and the
court granted that request in November 2017. Ms. Conzelman
found a third lawyer who entered an appearance on March 28,
2018. Ms. Conzelman asked for another continuance on the same
day. The district court denied the request.
A three-day bench trial began April 16, 2018. Ms. Conzelman was
not allowed to call witnesses because she did not timely file
a witness and exhibit list pursuant to the case management
order. The district court did allow her to testify,
cross-examine Mr. Conzelman's witnesses, and offer
exhibits. After the second day of trial, the court bifurcated
the proceedings. It ...