ARMOUR V. HOLCOMBE, S10F0946
*All courts mentioned are at the state level.
- Appellant held title to real property that was deemed subject to equitable division in the divorce of her son from his wife.
- The couple was married in 1978. Appellant acquired a home in 1991 and allowed the couple to live there. In 1996, Appellant deeded to the property to her son individually, as a gift. In March 2005, the son was facing financial difficulty and transferred the property back to Appellant. Wife filed for divorce in October 2005.
- Wife amended her divorce complaint to include Appellant as an additional defendant, sought to enjoin Appellant from selling the property, and sought to have the deed from her husband to Appellant set aside. The trial court then ordered the home to be sold and proceeds placed in escrow. The home sale resulted in $68,873.58 being placed in escrow.
- On the first day of trial, Wife told the court that she was not going to pursue the fraudulent conveyance issue. No jury instructions were given regarding the issue of fraudulent conveyance.
- The trial court did instruct the jury that the proceeds of the sale were a marital asset, and the jury awarded Wife $41,500 from the proceeds.
- Appellant contends that there was no evidence that the property was a marital asset, and that the trial court erred in denying her motions for relief (motions for directed verdict, judgment notwithstanding the verdict, and new trial) and in instructing the jury regarding the equitable division of the property. The Supreme Court agreed with Appellant.
- The Supreme Court noted that at the time of the divorce, the real estate was not the separate property of Husband; He had transferred the property to Appellant prior to Wife filing for divorce.
- Wife chose not to pursue a fraudulent conveyance claim, and she cited no case law in which the court has recognized a right to pursue the equitable division of property title in a person other than one of the spouses, without title to that property first being brought into the estate of one of the divorcing parties by the determination that a fraudulent conveyance has occurred.
- The Supreme Court explained that the law of contracts and titles is respected in divorce cases, and because Wife chose to abandon the avenue of a fraudulent conveyance claim, there was no basis for her claim upon Appellant’s property in the divorce action.
- Tyler C. Dixon for appellant
- Nicholas E. Bakatsas for appellee
- Donald R. Donovan for appellee
Cobb Superior Court; Kenneth O. Nix