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Feist v. Feist

Supreme Court of North Dakota

April 28, 2015

Cheryl Feist, Plaintiff, Appellee and Cross-Appellant
v.
Thomas L. Feist, Defendant, Appellant and Cross-Appellee

Page 818

Appeal from the District Court of Williams County, Northwest Judicial District, the Honorable Joshua B. Rustad, Judge.

Brenda A. Neubauer, Bismarck, ND, for plaintiff, appellee and cross-appellant.

Thomas M. Jackson, Bismarck, ND, for defendant, appellant and crossappellee.

Carol Ronning Kapsner, Lisa Fair McEvers, Daniel J. Crothers, Dale V. Sandstrom, Gerald W. VandeWalle, C.J.

OPINION

Page 819

Carol Ronning Kapsner, Justice.

[¶1] Thomas Feist appeals and Cheryl Feist cross-appeals from a district court divorce judgment dividing the parties' marital estate. Because we conclude the district court did not clearly err in equitably distributing the parties' marital estate and awarding all of the mineral interests to Cheryl Feist and did not abuse its discretion in failing to award attorney fees to Cheryl Feist, we affirm.

I

[¶2] The parties were married in 1971 and divorced in 2013. The parties have two children together who have both reached the age of majority. During the marriage, Cheryl Feist inherited mineral and surface interests in McKenzie County from her parents and has been receiving royalty payments from those interests. In allocating the marital property between the parties, the district court awarded $1,248,358.30 (50.05%), including all of the mineral interest assets, to Cheryl Feist and $1,245,945.76 (49.95%) to Thomas Feist, and denied Cheryl Feist's request for attorney fees.

II

[¶3] On appeal, Thomas Feist argues the district court erred in awarding Cheryl Feist all of the mineral interest assets because their value is too speculative. In her cross-appeal, Cheryl Feist argues she should have been awarded attorney fees and a greater distribution of the marital estate.

[¶4] The standard for reviewing the distribution of marital property has been well established by this Court:

A district court's distribution of marital property is treated as a finding of fact, which we review under the clearly erroneous standard of review. A finding of fact is clearly erroneous if it is induced by an erroneous view of the law, if there is no evidence to support it, or if, after reviewing all the evidence, we are left with a definite and firm conviction a mistake has been made. This Court views the evidence in ...

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