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Gabaldon-Cochran v. Cochran

Supreme Court of North Dakota

August 25, 2015

LaTanya Gabaldon-Cochran, Plaintiff and Appellant
v.
Jeremy Cochran, Defendant and Appellee

Appeal from the District Court of Grand Forks County, Northeast Central Judicial District, the Honorable Jon J. Jensen, Judge.

LaTanya L. Gabaldon, Mashantucket, plaintiff and appellant; self-represented.

Patti J. Jensen, East Grand Forks, for defendant and appellee.

Daniel J. Crothers, Lisa Fair McEvers, Carol Ronning Kapsner, Dale V. Sandstrom, Gerald W. VandeWalle, C.J. Opinion of the Court by Crothers, Justice.

OPINION

Page 502

Daniel J. Crothers, Justice.

[¶1] LaTanya Gabaldon, formerly known as LaTanya Gabaldon-Cochran, appeals from a district court judgment granting her a divorce from Jeremy Cochran. Gabaldon argues the court's property distribution is not equitable, the court erred in awarding Cochran a cash payment as part of the property distribution and the

Page 503

court failed to include all of her educational debt in the marital estate. We affirm.

I

[¶2] Gabaldon and Cochran were married in July 2011, and do not have any children together. At the time of the divorce, Gabaldon was 26 years old and Cochran was 38 years old. The parties lived in Arizona before they were married, but they relocated to North Dakota in August 2011 when Gabaldon began attending law school at the University of North Dakota. Gabaldon graduated from law school in the spring of 2014 and was employed as a judicial law clerk at the time of the divorce trial. Before the parties moved to North Dakota, Cochran was employed as a law enforcement officer by the Coconino County Sheriff's Department in Arizona, and he began working for the University of North Dakota Police Department after he relocated to North Dakota.

[¶3] In January 2014, Gabaldon filed for divorce. After a trial, the district court granted the parties a divorce, distributed the marital estate and ordered neither party would be awarded attorney's fees or spousal support. The court awarded Gabaldon $31,463.57 in assets, $13,149.55 in debts, and ordered she pay $17,500 to Cochran. The court awarded Cochran $60,005.41 in assets, $7,839.55 in debts, and a cash payment of $17,500 from Gabaldon. The court found the property distribution was equitable and returned to each party the assets and debts they brought into the marriage. Gabaldon received a net award of $814.02, and Cochran received a net award of $69,665.86.

II

[¶4] Gabaldon argues the district court's property distribution is clearly erroneous. She claims the distribution is not equitable, the court's decision to order a cash payment to Cochran was induced by an erroneous view of the law and the court failed to include her $25,000 educational debt to the Hopi Tribe in the marital estate.

[¶5] Our standard for reviewing the district court's property distribution is well-established:

" 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 the light ...

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