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Tassin v. Tassin

Court of Appeal of Louisiana, Third Circuit

December 3, 2014

MELVIN ANTHONY TASSIN
v.
CONSTANCE MIKITA TASSIN

Page 819

APPEAL FROM THE SIXTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT, PARISH OF ST. MARTIN, NO. 76,939. HONORABLE EDWARD M. LEONARD, JR., DISTRICT JUDGE.

Anthony Thibodeaux, Law Offices of Anthony Thibodeaux, APLC, Morgan City, Louisiana, Counsel for Plaintiff/Appellant: Melvin Anthony Tassin.

Sostenes Ruiz, III, Morgan City, Louisiana, Counsel for Defendant/Appellee: Constance Mikita Tassin.

William Edward Bourgeois, Lindsey M. Bolton, Bourgeois Thorguson, LLC, Morgan City, Louisiana, Counsel for Defendant/Appellee: Constance Mikita Tassin.

Court composed of J. David Painter, James T. Genovese, and Phyllis M. Keaty, Judges.

OPINION

Page 820

[14-488 La.App. 3 Cir. 1] KEATY, Judge.

Plaintiff, Melvin Anthony Tassin, appeals the trial court's judgment in favor of Defendant, Constance Mikita Tassin. For the following reasons, the trial court's judgment is affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded with instructions.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Melvin and Constance were married on February 29, 1992, in Illinois. Prior to their marriage, they executed an Antenuptial Agreement in Illinois on February 21, 1992. Pursuant to that agreement, they determined each of their rights in any and all property owned at the time of marriage and any property they acquired once married. The agreement provided that their property rights would remain the same should they reside in another state ruled by community property laws.

They moved to Laguna Vista, Texas, in 1998, where Melvin purchased, in his name

Page 821

only, a parcel of land. They built a house and made improvements on same. Two years later in 2000, Constance inherited $137,435.05 in cash from her deceased father's estate. On October 29, 2001, they purchased a residence in Houma, Louisiana, for $138,000.00. Two months later on December 13, 2001, they enlarged their backyard in Houma by purchasing additional footage for $2,500.00. They acquired both parcels of the Houma property in both of their names. They subsequently sold the Houma residence on February 5, 2003, for $147,000.00.

Prior to the sale of the Houma residence, on March 14, 2002, they purchased another house located in Stephensville, Louisiana, for $115,000.00. It was purchased in both of their names. They spent approximately $52,000.00 to remodel the Stephensville residence, where Constance resided until September [14-488 La.App. 3 Cir. 2] 2010.[1] Melvin continued to live at the house after her departure. Melvin and Constance subsequently divorced on August 22, 2011.

On January 31, 2012, Constance filed a petition against Melvin, seeking a temporary restraining order (TRO), possession or equitable rental of their co-owned home, a return of her personal property, and the return of her personal funds.[2] The trial court granted the TRO that same day. Melvin filed an answer and reconventional demand and also requested a TRO. He did not make a request for use and occupancy of the home. The trial court granted the TRO and ordered the parties to appear before a hearing officer. After the hearing, which took place on October 10, 2012, the Hearing Officer Conference Report recommended the partitioning of the property following a trial on the merits. Melvin filed an objection to the recommendations of the hearing officer.

The matter came before the trial court for hearing on January 31, 2013, and it dealt with the issues of partitioning the assets, reimbursements, and the forced sale of the Stephensville residence. As a result of this hearing, Melvin and Constance executed a consent judgment on February 26, 2013, authorizing her to remove certain items from the home while accompanied by a St. Martin Parish Sheriff's Deputy. The consent judgment ordered that Leon Kahn, a certified real estate appraiser, be retained to appraise the Stephensville property. Kahn valued the home at $204,600.00.

[14-488 La.App. 3 Cir. 3] Thereafter, a trial on the merits was held on July 22, 2013, wherein both parties introduced testimony and documentary evidence. On September 3, 2013, the trial court issued its reasons for judgment as well as its judgment in this matter. The trial court found that the parties co-owned the Stephensville property and ordered Melvin to provide Constance with an accounting of all of her funds " that he administered during their marriage and an accounting of the expenses that he listed on the ledger in her name." Melvin was ordered to pay Constance $137,435.05 to reimburse her for her separate, inherited property. Additionally, Melvin was ordered to pay Constance $750.00 per month from the date that she stopped living at the Stephensville residence until the date

Page 822

that the house was sold to account for Melvin's one-half of the fair market rental for his continued use of the home. The trial court ordered that the Stephensville property be partitioned with Constance to receive one-half of its value. Finally, the trial court ordered Melvin to pay court costs. On December 17, 2013, the trial court executed Constance's motion and order to have the property listed for sale at not less than its appraised value. Melvin appeals.

ASSIGNMENTS OF ERROR

In this instant appeal, Melvin asserts the following assignments of error:

(1) The trial court erred in finding that the purchase price for the Houma residence was $139,801.00;
(2) The trial court erred in finding that March 2, 2003, was the date when the parties purchased the Stephensville residence;
(3) The trial court erred in finding that the Stephensville residence was purchased after the sale of the Houma residence;
(4) The trial court erred in finding that the parties each owned fifty percent of the Stephensville residence without giving Melvin credit for his share of the amount that he paid to purchase the residence;
[14-488 La.App. 3 Cir. 4] (5) The trial court erred in not ordering that the proceeds of the sale of the Stephensville residence be distributed to Melvin in proportion to his contribution toward the payment of the purchase price of the property;
(6) The trial court erred by not considering and finding that the proceeds of the sale of the Houma residence, which was purchased in part with Constance's inheritance funds, was considered as her means to contribute to her living expenses;
(7) The trial court erred by not considering Constance's living expenses from the date she received the proceeds of the sale of the Houma residence;
(8) The trial court erred by not considering Constance's use of the funds generated by the sale of the Houma residence;
(9) The trial court erred by finding that Constance was entitled to reimbursement of the rental value of the Stephensville residence;
(10) The trial court erred by valuing the rent of the Stephensville residence at $1,500.00;
(11) The trial court erred by ordering Melvin to pay Constance $750.00 per month from the date that she no longer lived at the Stephensville residence until the sale of the house as fair value for his ...

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