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Anderson v. Anderson

Supreme Court of South Dakota

May 6, 2015

DOROTHEA ANDERSON, Plaintiff and Appellee,
v.
JOHN ANDERSON, Defendant and Appellant

Considered on Briefs March 23, 2015.

Page 11

APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE FIRST JUDICIAL CIRCUIT AURORA COUNTY, SOUTH DAKOTA. THE HONORABLE PATRICK SMITH, Judge.

DAVA A. WERMERS, Mitchell, South Dakota, Attorney for plaintiff and appellee.

CHRIS A. NIPE of Larson & Nipe, Mitchell, South Dakota, Attorneys for defendant and appellant.

SEVERSON, Justice. GILBERTSON, Chief Justice, and ZINTER, WILBUR, and KERN, Justices, concur.

OPINION

Page 12

SEVERSON, Justice

[¶1] Dorothea Anderson and John Anderson obtained a divorce. The circuit court divided the marital assets, including land and cash that John had inherited from his mother during the marriage. The court also awarded Dorothea child support. John appeals. We affirm.

Background

[¶2] Dorothea and John married in 1996 and separated in 2012. They both brought vehicles into the marriage but no other assets of value. Neither party brought debt into the marriage. They have three children who were 16, 11, and 9 at the time of the divorce. They lived with John's parents until 2003 or 2004 when they acquired their marital home. John farmed and worked full time at Scott Supply. Dorothea took care of the home and children. She also worked at a restaurant before obtaining full-time employment as a paraprofessional at a local school where she continued to work at the time of the divorce hearing. Dorothea helped with various aspects of the farm such as running errands and serving as bookkeeper. Throughout the marriage both parties placed their income into a joint checking account. No money or property was kept separate by either party. The disputed property in this case is two quarters of land, inherited cash, and cash taken by Dorothea upon separation of the parties.

[¶3] The circuit court determined that the parties' farmland, consisting of two quarter sections, referred to as the S.E. 1/4 and N.E. 1/4 , was a marital asset subject to equitable division. John's mother gifted the S.E. 1/4 in 2004. At John's suggestion, his mother put Dorothea's name on the deed, despite the strain Dorothea caused on the relationship between John and his mother. In 2007, John's mother passed away. She bequeathed him the N.E. 1/4 and $91,296. The circuit court noted that the S.E. 1/4 had been obtained eight years into the marriage, and they received the N.E. 1/4 eleven years into the marriage. Further, the court found that John had minimized Dorothea's contributions to the farming operation and improvement of the

Page 13

real estate. It found that her management of the home and children provided John with the time he needed to perform farming tasks and that her money went into the joint checking account to pay farm-related expenses and taxes. Therefore, the court included the land in the marital property, concluding that Dorothea's contributions were more than de minimis and that she had need for the financial support the asset can provide. The court determined that each party would retain an undivided one half interest in the real estate as tenants in common. It gave John the option, for six months, to purchase Dorothea's share of the property for its current appraisal value. Neither party could dispose of the land or ...


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