LAURA R. NORMANDIN APPELLANT
SCOTT W. NORMANDIN APPELLEE
FROM OLDHAM CIRCUIT COURT HONORABLE JERRY D. CROSBY II, JUDGE
ACTION NO. 13-CI-00741
FOR APPELLANT: Louis P. Winner Sarah M. Tate Louisville,
FOR APPELLEE: James L. Theiss James Daniel Theiss LaGrange,
BEFORE: J. LAMBERT, NICKELL, AND TAYLOR, JUDGES.
R. Normandin (Laura) appeals from an order entered by the
Oldham Circuit Court, Family Division, on February 2, 2016,
denying in part and granting in part Laura's motions
regarding calculation of maintenance and child support,
division of marital property, and award of attorney's
fees. She also appeals from the court's subsequent denial
entered March 21, 2016, of her motions to alter, amend, or
vacate and for additional findings of fact. After careful
consideration, for the reasons set forth below, we affirm.
events of this case stem from Laura's dissolution of
marriage action against the appellee, Scott W. Normandin
(Scott). The parties were married in Madison County,
Virginia, on January 25, 2004. The marriage resulted in the
birth of four minor children. Laura filed for dissolution in
November 2013. After Laura filed for divorce, the parties
contemplated reconciliation for several months before
proceeding to two failed mediations and ultimately going to
trial on January 6, 2016. The trial court issued its findings
of fact and conclusions of law on February 2, 2016.
the parties lived in Washington, D.C., Laura worked as a
commercial real estate manager until 2005. Since then, Laura
has primarily been a stay-at-home mother and homemaker. She
had no substantial source of income outside of marital funds
until she received an inheritance from the probate of her
father's estate while these divorce proceedings were
ongoing. She has received at least $350, 000 in assets from
her father's estate so far and is expected to receive an
additional $100, 000 from the estate's disposition of
most of the marriage, Scott was the sole income earner. He
has worked for his current employer, Humana, since 2008. At
the time of the divorce trial, he earned a base salary of
$226, 096 per year as Chief Security Officer. He also earned
bonuses and incentive-based income, including restricted
stock units (RSUs). RSUs are earned at Humana's
discretion based on prior years' performance, are subject
to other restrictions, and are not available until all the
restrictions lapse or occur as required under a three-year
vesting schedule. For example, if Scott is no longer employed
by Humana on the date of vesting, all the remaining RSUs
would be forfeited.
admitted he anticipated receiving proceeds worth
approximately $220, 000 when more of the RSUs were expected
to vest eighteen days after the conclusion of the trial.
However, he testified Humana is merging with another large
health insurance company, making Scott's job outlook
uncertain because he may lose his position at any time due to
addition to Scott's other employment benefits, he also
has a 401k retirement savings account. The total value of the
account at the time of the trial was $499, 879. This account
consists of funds derived both while working for Humana and
his previous employers. Scott rolled his retirement funds
from his premarital employment into his Humana account in
2009, and he claimed $77, 000 as the present nonmarital value
of the account.
parties own an unimproved piece of real property located in
Dubois, Wyoming, which they purchased prior to their
marriage. Laura claims she paid the initial down payment on
the property when they purchased it. Scott testified he
reimbursed Laura for the down payment thereafter. Neither
party provided documentation to support their testimonies.
February 2, 2016, order,  the trial court found all proceeds from
Scott's unvested RSUs were nonmarital property and did
not include them in his income when calculating maintenance
or child support. It designated the Wyoming property as
marital, divided its value equally, and awarded possession to
Scott. The trial court awarded Laura $1, 500 per month for
forty-eight months in maintenance after considering the
nonmarital inheritance she received, her portion of the
marital property awarded, her ability to become employed, and
her other financial resources. It also awarded $2, 199.60 per
month for child support. Finally, after considering
Laura's use of $18, 000 of marital funds to pay some of
her attorney's fees, the trial court denied her request
for additional reimbursement for them.
the trial court's February order was issued, both parties
filed motions to alter, amend, or vacate and motions for
additional findings of fact. This resulted in a second order
issued on March 21, 2016. Between the two orders in this case,
the trial court successfully disposed of much of the marital
estate, including: distributing the ownership and debt
associated with several vehicles; assigning the parties'
personal property; dividing the equity in the marital home,
which was put up for sale; and apportioning the parties'
bank accounts, credit cards, and other debts. However, many
of the parties' motions were denied in the March order.
This appeal followed.
standard of review for determinations of maintenance and
child support is an abuse of discretion. Stipp v. St.
Charles, 291 S.W.3d 720, 727 (Ky. App. 2009) (reviewing
maintenance); Downing v. Downing, 45 S.W.3d 449, 454
(Ky. App. 2001) (regarding child support). The same standard
applies to the award of attorney's fees because the
determination is purely within the court's discretion.
Neidlinger v. Neidlinger, 52 S.W.3d 513, 519 (Ky.
2001). "The test for abuse of discretion is whether the
trial judge's decision was arbitrary, unreasonable,
unfair, or unsupported by sound legal principles."
Commonwealth v. English, 993 S.W.2d 941, 945 (Ky.
1999) (citations omitted). An appellate court will not
disturb the holdings or substitute its own judgment when the
evidence supports the trial court's decision and it did
not abuse its discretion when deciding a case. Combs v.
Combs, 787 S.W.2d 260, 262 (Ky. 1990).
Smith v. Smith, 235 S.W.3d 1, 6 (Ky. App. 2006),
this Court established a two-tiered standard of review for
the division of marital property. Id. Under the
first tier of the standard, conclusions of law are reviewed
de novo. Id. The trial court must apply a
statutory standard when classifying property as marital or
nonmarital, which is a conclusion of law. Holman v.
Holman, 84 S.W.3d 903, 905 (Ky. 2002). When applying
this standard, the rebuttable presumption under Kentucky law
is property acquired during a marriage will be classified as
marital and the presumption must be rebutted by clear and
convincing evidence. KRS403.190(3). The clear and convincing
standard requires the evidence substantially support the
trial court's findings of fact. Barber v.
Bradley, 505 S.W.3d 749, 754 (Ky. 2016). In the second
tier of review, we defer to the trial court's findings of
fact regarding the division of property and do not disturb
those findings on appeal unless the court abuses its
403.190(2) defines marital property as any property acquired
after the marriage begins (and its increase in value outside
of any efforts of the parties during the marriage), which is
not affected by one of the exceptions listed in the statute.
Any property acquired after the marriage begins is presumed
to be marital property unless the party who claims it as
nonmarital can overcome the presumption. KRS 403.190(3). The
burden of proof required is clear and convincing evidence.
Barber, 505 S.W.3d at 755. The standard method of
proving an asset is nonmarital is by a method of
documentation called tracing. Sexton v. Sexton, 125
S.W.3d 258, 266 (Ky. 2004). However, as the trial court
observed, the clear and convincing standard is not so rigid