Angela R. Allmon, Plaintiff and Appellant
Aaron D. Allmon, Defendant and Appellee
from the District Court of Ward County, North Central
Judicial District, the Honorable Stacy J. Louser, Judge.
S. Rau, Minot, ND, for plaintiff and appellant.
D. Allmon, self-represented, Canyon Lake, TX, defendant and
1] Angela Allmon appeals from a judgment granting her a
divorce from Aaron Allmon, granting her primary residential
responsibility for their child, ordering him to pay child
support, and distributing their marital property. We affirm
in part, but reverse the child support award and remand for
the district court to correctly apply the Child Support
2] In May 2013, the parties were married in Arizona and a
child was born to the couple later that year. Both parties
were employed by the military, but Angela Allmon left
military service after a 16-year career to accompany Aaron
Allmon when he was relocated to Minot. The parties'
relationship soon soured. Aaron Allmon committed domestic
violence during the marriage, and he was convicted of sexual
misconduct and served 30 days in a military jail. Despite the
conviction, Aaron Allmon would be allowed to retire and
retain his pension and other military benefits.
3] Angela Allmon commenced this divorce action in November
2014. In February 2015, the parties and their attorneys
appeared at an interim hearing where agreements were reached
on several issues including Angela Allmon's request to
relocate with the child outside of North Dakota. After the
interim hearing, Aaron Allmon did not cooperate or take part
in any of the proceedings, his attorneys were allowed to
withdraw from representing him, and in March 2016, he was
ordered to pay $1, 500 in attorney fees for failing to comply
with discovery requests.
4] The divorce trial was held in July 2016. Failing to keep
the district court apprised of his current residential or
mailing address, Aaron Allmon did not receive notice or
appear at the trial. Angela Allmon appeared through the
Interactive Video Network system from her residence in
Germany. Following the trial, the court awarded Angela Allmon
primary residential responsibility for the parties' child
and ordered Aaron Allmon to pay child support in the same
amount specified in the February 2015 interim order. The
court awarded each party the property in their possession
along with any associated debts and ordered Aaron Allmon to
pay Angela Allmon $25, 000 as part of the property
distribution. The court refused to grant Angela Allmon's
requests for spousal support and attorney fees.
5] Angela Allmon challenges the district court's
decisions on property distribution, spousal support, child
support, and attorney fees.
6] Angela Allmon argues the property distribution is
inequitable because the district court failed to divide Aaron
Allmon's military pension between the parties.
7] Under N.D.C.C. § 14-05-24(1), the district court is
required to make an equitable distribution of the marital
estate, including all of the parties' assets and debts,
whether held jointly or individually, and the court must
determine the value of the entire marital estate before
making an equitable distribution. See
Gabaldon-Cochran v. Cochran, 2015 ND 214, ¶ 6, 868
N.W.2d 501; Lorenz v. Lorenz, 2007 ND 49, ¶ 6,
729 N.W.2d 692. Equitable division of the marital estate is
governed by the Ruff-Fischer guidelines, which
requires consideration of the following factors:
[T]he respective ages of the parties, their earning ability,
the duration of the marriage and conduct of the parties
during the marriage, their station in life, the circumstances
and necessities of each, their health and physical condition,
their financial circumstances as shown by the property owned
at the time, its value at the time, its income-producing
capacity, if any, whether accumulated before or after the
marriage, and such other matters as may be material. The
trial court is not required to make specific findings, but it
must specify a rationale for its determination.
Rebel v. Rebel, 2013 ND 116, ¶ 7, 833 N.W.2d
442 (quoting Kosobud v. Kosobud, 2012 ND 122, ¶
6, 817 N.W.2d 384); see Ruff v. Ruff, 78
N.D. 775, 52 N.W.2d 107 (1952); Fischer v. Fischer,
139 N.W.2d 845 (N.D. 1966).
8] In Gabaldon-Cochran, 2015 ND 214, ¶ 7, 868
N.W.2d 501, we explained:
A property division does not need to be equal to be
equitable, but a substantial disparity must be explained.
Feist [ v. Feist ], 2015 ND 98, ¶ 6,
862 N.W.2d 817. "We have often said that while a
long-term marriage generally supports an equal division of
property, a court may unequally divide property in a
short-term marriage and award the parties what each brought
into the marriage." Fugere [ v. Fugere
], 2015 ND 174, ¶ 8, 865 N.W.2d 407 (quoting
Dieterle v. Dieterle, 2013 ND 71, ¶ 25, 830
N.W.2d 571). Economic fault and a party's dissipation of
assets also may be relevant factors for the court to ...