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Fugere v. Fugere

Supreme Court of North Dakota

July 1, 2015

Kevin D. Fugere, Plaintiff and Appellee
v.
Marie E. Fugere, Defendant and Appellant

Appeal from the District Court of Stark County, Southwest Judicial District, the Honorable William A. Herauf, Judge.

Gary D. Ramsey, for plaintiff and appellee; on brief.

Scott T. Solem and Allyson M. Hicks, for defendant and appellant; on brief.

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

OPINION

Page 408

Sandstrom, Justice.

[¶1] Marie E. Fugere appeals from a judgment granting Kevin D. Fugere a divorce from her, dividing their marital estate, and awarding her rehabilitative spousal support. Because the district court's property distribution from this

Page 409

short marriage is not clearly erroneous, we affirm.

I

[¶2] Kevin Fugere, who had been married twice before, and Marie Fugere, who had been married three times before, began dating in the summer of 2007. In January 2009, they were engaged to be married. Kevin Fugere had a large farm and ranch operation headquartered south of Belfield, and Marie Fugere served as postmaster in Belfield, making $60,000 per year. Marie Fugere filed for bankruptcy in early 2009. As their May wedding date approached, Kevin Fugere presented Marie Fugere with several proposed prenuptial agreements. On May 6, 2009, after one of the prenuptial agreements was presented to her, Marie Fugere attempted suicide. The wedding was postponed, and no prenuptial agreement was signed.

[¶3] The parties were married in August 2009 when Kevin Fugere was 51 years old and Marie Fugere was 46 years old, and they lived on the ranch. According to Kevin Fugere, his net worth at the time of the marriage exceeded $3 million, consisting mainly of the ranch which he had operated since 1981. Marie Fugere, having recently completed bankruptcy, brought to the marriage her Post Office Thrift Savings Account worth approximately $100,000 and some personal property. Marie Fugere eventually quit her job as postmaster, assisted with the ranch work, and did most of the household chores. She had emotional problems and drank excessively during the marriage. She attempted suicide on two more occasions and spent time at a treatment facility in Grand Forks. Following a quarrel with Kevin Fugere after Christmas 2012, Marie Fugere left the ranch in early January 2013.

[¶4] Kevin Fugere sued for divorce in January 2013. No children were born of the marriage, so the trial focused on marital property division and spousal support. Following the trial, the district court found the net value of the marital estate was nearly $5,850,000. Mainly on the basis of the short duration of the marriage, the court awarded Kevin Fugere property having a net value of $5,688,215. The court awarded Marie Fugere property having a net value of $161,662, and a cash award of $105,000 to compensate her for " taking care of the house as well [as] her helping to the extent that she could in the farm/ranch operation." The court reduced the cash award by $24,000, which had been paid to her by Kevin Fugere through earlier interim orders. The court also ordered Kevin Fugere to pay Marie Fugere $1,550 per month for five years for rehabilitative spousal support.

[¶5] The district court had jurisdiction under N.D. Const. art. VI, § 8, and N.D.C.C. § 27-05-06. Marie Fugere's appeal is timely under N.D.R.App.P. 4(a). This Court has jurisdiction under N.D. Const. art. VI, ...


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