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Ford v. Ford

Court of Appeals of Kentucky

May 10, 2019





          JONES, JUDGE.

          Paula P. Ford ("Paula") appeals from several orders of the Mason Circuit Court rendered in connection with the dissolution of her marriage to John S. Ford III ("John"). Paula asserts the trial court erred when it refused to set aside a separation agreement she negotiated with John during a court-ordered mediation, ordered the separation agreement incorporated into the parties' dissolution decree even though it was unconscionable, and later denied her CR[1]59.05 motions to set aside the judgment (incorporating the agreement) without allowing her to present additional evidence at a hearing. Following our review of the record and all applicable legal authority, we affirm the trial court's order incorporating the parties' settlement agreement into the final dissolution decree over Paula's objection. We decline to review any issues associated with the trial court's denial of Paula's CR 59.05 motion to alter, amend or vacate because orders denying CR 59.05 motions are interlocutory and not subject to appellate review.

         I. Background

         After thirty years of marriage, John filed a petition for divorce from Paula on September 9, 2014. Shortly thereafter, Paula, who resides in Colorado, sent correspondence to the trial court indicating that she had been unable to hire an attorney in Kentucky, but that she and John had agreed that he would withdraw his petition for dissolution of marriage. Paula indicated that she and John had reached an agreement on the division of their real and personal property and would file for legal separation sometime later. The trial court does not appear to have taken any action on Paula's letter as John's petition remained pending.

         Almost a year later, on August 21, 2015, John filed a motion to have his petition referred to the Domestic Relations Commissioner for a hearing on property division issues. John stated that he and Paula had discussed several proposed settlements but had been unable to reach an agreement. Both parties filed preliminary verified disclosure statements, which demonstrated that, in addition to the parties' significant marital assets, each had substantial non-marital assets. The trial court entered a status quo order on December 16, 2015, and referred the parties to mediation.

         Both parties accompanied by their respective legal counsel participated in mediation on April 19, 2016. Despite owning significant marital and non-marital property, the parties did not have any appraisals of their residential and commercial real property performed to aid in dividing their property at the mediation. Instead, John and Paula relied on their own estimates of property values. At the time of mediation, the parties estimated the total value of their major marital assets to be $1, 585, 390, comprised as follows:

1.Real property located at 1315-1337 U.S. 68 S, Maysville, KY, (the "Southgate Plaza") with an estimated fair market value of $610, 390;[2]
2. Real property located at 635 Larimer Street, Steamboat Springs, CO (the "Steamboat Property"), with an estimated fair market value of $700, 000;[3]
3.A fifty-percent interest in real property located at 1910 Old Washington, with an estimated value of $165, 000; and
4. A marital Roth IRA, with a value of $110, 000.

         The mediation appeared to be successful, as a handwritten Mediation Agreement Order (the "Agreement") was filed of record on April 22, 2016.[4] The Agreement was signed by Paula, John and their respective counsel. The Agreement stated as follows:

1. The parties shall exchange copies of their last will and testament and make no changes thereto without notice to the other party.
2. [John] shall make any financial [power of attorney] only to his sister, brother in law, or Tom Duke.
3. Each party shall keep the vehicles in their name ([John] 2004 Ford Ranger and 2006 Nissan) ([Paula] 2004 Volvo, 2002 Subaru).
4. [Paula] shall receive the [Steamboat Property].
5.[Paula] shall receive her [non-marital] Schwabb [sic] account.[5]
6. [John] shall receive the Roth IRA and the four non-marital Schwab accounts in his name.[6]
7. [John] shall receive Southgate Plaza; 1910 Old Washington, Maysville, KY; all interest in Ford Acre's [sic] Farm and Carmel St. LLC; and Perry Place Subdivision.[7]
8. In exchange for marital equity, [John] shall pay to [Paula] $135, 000 ...

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