AND CROSS-APPEAL FROM TAYLOR CIRCUIT COURT HONORABLE SAMUEL
TODD SPALDING, JUDGE ACTION NO. 15-CI-00325
FOR APPELLANT/ CROSS-APPELLEE: Lukas Lawless Campbellsville,
FOR APPELLEE/ CROSS-APPELLANT: Wesley Eric Bright
BEFORE: ACREE, DIXON, AND JONES, JUDGES.
Matthew Brian Duffy, appeals from Findings of Fact,
Conclusions of Law, and Decree of Dissolution of Marriage of
the Taylor Circuit Court, wherein the trial court determined
that his unvested restricted stock units were marital
property and subject to division by the court.
Appellee/Cross-Appellant, Faustina Lanet Duffy Landis, has
filed a cross-appeal challenging the trial court's
reduction of its initial finding regarding Matthew's
potential gross income. For the reasons stated herein, we
affirm the trial court.
parties herein were married on December 31, 2001, in
Natchitoches Parrish, Louisiana. One child was born during
the marriage, a son whose date of birth is October 13, 2013.
The parties relocated to Campbellsville, Kentucky in 2010,
when Matthew accepted employment as a supervisor with Amazon.
In 2014, Matthew was transferred to San Jose, California to
work in a similar position with Amazon. Faustina and the
parties' son remained in Campbellsville. On October 15,
2015, Faustina filed a petition for dissolution of marriage
in the Taylor Circuit Court, which included a request for
custody of the minor child.
November 19, 2015, the trial court entered Findings of Fact
and Conclusions of Law awarding the parties joint custody,
with Faustina being designated as the residential custodian.
The trial court found that Matthew earned approximately $144,
757.15 in 2014. Further, Matthew was enrolled in Master's
Degree classes at Santa Clara University under a 9/11 GI Bill
and was receiving full tuition as well as a housing allowance
of $2, 506.40 per month, despite not owning a home or paying
rent in California. As a result, for the purposes of
calculating temporary child support and maintenance, the
trial court calculated Matthew's gross monthly income to
be $17, 089.73. Matthew was ordered to pay temporary child
support in the amount of $1, 056 per month and temporary
maintenance in the amount of $2, 500 per month.
on December 5, 2015, some three weeks after the trial
court's temporary order, Matthew discontinued his classes
at Santa Clara University. Upon his withdrawal from college,
the monthly housing allowance was terminated. Thereafter, on
March 23, 2016, Matthew tendered a resignation letter to
Amazon, which read,
Saket, I regret to inform you that I will end my employment
with Amazon.com as of 4 April, 2016. I appreciate all that I
have learned with Amazon fulfillment, but have to make
adjustments to my work schedule due to some family related
issues and cannot meet the requirements demanded of an Amazon
I do hope that, after I have resolved my family issues, I
will be considered to work with Amazon again.
time of Matthew's resignation, he had acquired 224
Restricted Stock Units (RSU) that had an unvested potential
(pre-tax) value of $143, 886.40. Those shares were scheduled
to vest on May 15, 2016. However, upon his resignation,
Matthew forfeited all rights in the RSUs. Matthew thereafter
took a job with Sun Basket Food Distributing at an annual
base salary of $70, 000. He also received 5000 shares of
company stock that were valueless at that time.
hearing on the matter was held on May 6, 2016, during which
both parties testified. The trial court entered its Findings
of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Decree of Dissolution on May
17, 2016. In the trial court's extensive findings of
fact, it determined that Faustina had the reasonable ability
to earn $2, 000 per month in addition to her monthly
Veteran's Administration disability income of $1, 227.09,
for a total monthly imputed income of $3, 227.09. With
respect to Matthew's income, the trial court found:
25. It is impossible for the Court to know the exact
motivation of the Respondent in changing jobs. Certainly, it
is suspicious the Respondent chose to change employment and
discontinue his master's education only after the
Court's temporary child support and maintenance order was
entered. Child support and maintenance calculation are based
on the Respondent's ability to earn money, and not what
he is currently earning. The Court finds it would be
inequitable to calculate Respondent's monthly income on
his current earnings when he voluntarily chose to accept a
$130, 000 yearly pay cut. Accordingly, for child support and
maintenance calculation, the Court imputes the Respondent
gross monthly income of $10, 000 per month.
regarding the classification and valuation of marital
property, the trial court made the following relevant
Findings of Fact:
65. At the time of Respondent's resignation from
Amazon.com, he had 224 remaining unvested shares. In
calculating the same yield which was generated on the other
95 shares which became vested in November, 2015, the Court
finds these unvested shares had an after tax value of $82,
66. The Respondent voluntarily resigned his position with
Amazon to accept new employment which was approximately
one-third of the amount he was earning and relinquished $82,
665.00 from these unvested shares which had been accumulated.
The Court finds the actions of the Respondent constitute a
dissipation of marital assets. Accordingly, in the valuation
of the marital property the Court assigns a value to the
Respondent of these unvested benefits at Amazon in the amount
of $82, 665.00. The Court finds the actions of the Respondent
dissipated marital assets and basically gave away this money
without any input or agreement by the Petitioner.
Conclusions of Law, the trial court similarly noted,
22. One issue to be determined in this action involves the
status of certain "Restricted Stock Units (RSU) offered
by the Respondent's former employer, and whether or not
they constitute a marital asset. From information provided to
this Court, the Respondent was entitled, twice a year, to
have stock issued in his name, which he could then hold or
liquidate as he saw fit. The only requirement is that the
Respondent be employed by Amazon on the declared date that
the stock would be issued. In other words, the stock is
issued as a sort of loyalty reward. Since Amazon has done
well, the RSU distribution of the 224 unvested stock options
to which the Respondent would have been entitled would have
had [an after tax] value of $82, 665.00.
23. Unfortunately, on or about March 26, 2016, the Respondent
elected to discontinue his employment with Amazon and
forfeited his ability to receive the RSUs for the last
distribution. By way of reference, the Respondent was aware
of the RSU policy and procedures at the time he discontinued
his employment, had exercised his rights under the RSU in the
past, and the date of the last RSU was during the time ...