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Carl Michael Hoverson v. Sandra Morten Hoverson

April 4, 2013

CARL MICHAEL HOVERSON,
PLAINTIFF, APPELLEE AND CROSS-APPELLANT
v.
SANDRA MORTEN HOVERSON,
DEFENDANT, APPELLANT AND CROSS-APPELLEE



Appeal from the District Court of Grand Forks County, Northeast Central Judicial District, the Honorable Sonja Clapp, Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Maring, Justice.

N.D. Supreme CourtHoverson v. Hoverson,

2013 ND 48

This opinion is subject to petition for rehearing. [Go to Documents]

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AFFIRMED.

Opinion of the Court by Maring, Justice.

[¶1] Sandra Hoverson appeals and Carl Hoverson cross-appeals from a divorce judgment distributing the parties' marital estate and ordering Carl Hoverson to pay Sandra Hoverson $3,000 per month for spousal support for two years, $3,002 per month for child support, and attorney's fees. The parties' arguments raise issues about the property distribution, the duration and amount of spousal support, the propriety and the amount of an upward deviation for child support, and the award of attorney's fees. We affirm.

I

[¶2] Carl and Sandra Hoverson met in February 2004, when he was 49 years old and she was 42 years old. They were married in May 2004, and had one child together in 2005. Their marriage was his second, see Hoverson v. Hoverson, 2001 ND 124, 629 N.W.2d 573, and her fourth.

[¶3] When the parties met, Sandra Hoverson was living in Florida, where she owned a home. She graduated from high school in Larimore and received subsequent training as a radiologic technician, working as a trauma CT scan technician and as a mobile MRI technician for about three years before becoming employed at a Florida hospital in 1991. In 2003, she earned about $57,000. She earned about $31,000 during the first six months of 2004, before she quit her job shortly after the parties' marriage. According to her, she had maintained her license, but the technology had advanced after she quit work in 2004 and she was not interested in going back to work as a radiologic technician.

[¶4] Carl Hoverson was raised near Grand Forks. He graduated from high school in 1973 and attended college for about one year before beginning farming with his father in 1975. After his father died, Carl Hoverson started his own farming operation in 1976. In 1994, he and Ron Offut established Hoverson Farms LLP as an equal partnership with Carl Hoverson in charge of the day-to-day operations of the partnership. Hoverson Farms has become a successful potato farming operation, and the district court valued Carl Hoverson's share of the partnership at $9,530,017. In 2008, Carl Hoverson formed land holding companies, CHF Huntsville LLC, CMC Farms LLC, and CHF Union Lake LLC, with two sons from his prior marriage. Two of those companies, CHF Huntsville and CMC Farms, lease farmland to Hoverson Farms, and CHF Union Lake owns lake property. The district court valued Carl Hoverson's interest in CHF Huntsville at $963,540, his interest in CMC Farms at $2,999,360, and his interest in CHF Union Lake at $134,000. Carl Hoverson earns a substantial income from his farming ventures, and the district court found his average yearly income from 2004 through 2010 was $1,635,307.

[¶5] During periods of their marriage, the parties lived separately, with Sandra Hoverson maintaining her residence in Florida and Carl Hoverson engaging in the farming operation near Larimore. In January 2010, Carl Hoverson sued Sandra Hoverson for divorce, but the action was dismissed when the parties reconciled. Sandra Hoverson thereafter lived predominately in North Dakota, and in August 2010, Carl Hoverson brought this divorce action against her.

[ΒΆ6] In May 2011, the district court entered an interim order granting Sandra Hoverson temporary, primary residential responsibility of the parties' minor child and ordering Carl Hoverson to pay her $2,102 per month in temporary child support, $4,648 per month in temporary spousal support, and $25,000 for attorney's fees. The parties thereafter stipulated that Sandra Hoverson would have primary residential responsibility of their child. After a December 2011 trial, the district court granted the parties a divorce, distributed the parties' marital estate, which the court valued at about $14.5 million, with approximately 20 percent of the marital property, $2,832,393, going to Sandra Hoverson and 80 percent of the marital property, $11,639,267, going to Carl Hoverson, and ordered Carl Hoverson ...


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