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Helbling v. Helbling

Supreme Court of North Dakota

January 15, 2019

Janet L. Helbling, Plaintiff and Appellee
v.
Wayne T. Helbling, Defendant and Appellant

          Appeal from the District Court of Morton County, South Central Judicial District, the Honorable Thomas J. Schneider, Judge.

          Charles L. Chapman, Bismarck, ND, for plaintiff and appellee.

          Theresa L. Kellington, Bismarck, ND, for defendant and appellant.

          OPINION

          McEvers, Justice.

         [¶ 1] Wayne Helbling appeals from an amended judgment providing payment terms and security for his remaining obligations to Janet Helbling under their original divorce judgment. We conclude the district court did not err in concluding the parties had not modified the divorce settlement agreement and had not entered into an oral agreement to amend the judgment. We further conclude the court did not err by failing to find Janet Helbling was estopped from demanding payment of the remaining balance and did not err in entering the amended judgment containing an amortization schedule to pay his remaining obligations over a ten-year period with interest. We affirm.

         I

         [¶ 2] In 2000, Janet Helbling and Wayne Helbling were married. In 2013, Janet Helbling sued for divorce asserting grounds of irreconcilable differences. Before trial, the parties executed a divorce settlement agreement that distributed the parties' marital property and debts. In September 2014, a divorce judgment was entered on the basis of the parties' agreement. Relevant to this appeal are paragraphs 15, 21, and 33 of the judgment, which state:

[¶15] REAL PROPERTY. The parties own two residences together; to wit: one located at... Morton County, North Dakota known as "the farmstead;" and the other located at... Mandan, ND. Subject to payment as set forth in Paragraph 21 below, the parties agree that Wayne shall have full ownership of and responsibility for the farmstead. As such, subject to payment as set forth in Paragraph 21 below Wayne shall have all right, title, interest, and equity, free and clear of any claim of the farmstead on the part of Janet. Upon payment to her of the sums of money out lined [sic] in paragraph 21, Janet will issue a Quit Claim Deed, passing ownership of the above property to Wayne. The parties agree that Janet shall have full ownership of and responsibility for [street address of Mandan residence]. As such, Janet shall have all right, title, interest, and equity, free and clear of any claim on the part of Wayne. Wayne agrees to issue a Quit Claim Deed, passing ownership of the above property to Janet, within thirty (30) days of the date a Judgment is issued in this matter.
....
[¶21] PARTNERSHIP. Wayne shall be awarded all interest in Helbling Bros Ranch as partner and Janet hereby waives any claims she has to the Helbling Bros Ranch. Janet shall receive $1, 000, 000.00 of and for payment of all interest in the Helbling Bros Ranch and any and all other property both real and personal granted to Wayne. The parties agree that payment shall be made by Wayne to Janet as follows:
a. $750, 000 within 60 days of entry of judgment. She will then pay off the mortgage on [the Mandan residence].
b. $250, 000 when Wayne turns age 65. Wayne may pay this early if he prefers. Janet will have a mortgage on [the Morton County property] which shall be subordinated to the loan Wayne will take out to pay her the initial payment. Additionally, each year until she is paid in full, she shall receive the rents from this parcel of land in an amount equal to the average rent for Morton County land as set out by the FSA North Dakota Land, Rent and Values publication.
c. If Wayne does not get financing for the initial payment, the parties will either reach an agreement on how the $1, 000, 000 is to be paid and if they cannot do so the parties will ask the court to determine the terms of payment. Each would then be able to ...

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