Appealed from the Eighth Judicial District Court for the
Parish of Winn, Louisiana Trial Court No. 41, 711 Honorable
Robert W. Kostelka, Judge Ad Hoc
W. HOUCK Counsel for Appellant
CARROLL & FRAZIER, PLLC By: Rossanna Rahim McIlwain
Counsel for Appellee
MOORE, PITMAN, and McCALLUM, JJ.
Martin appeals from a judgment of partition which
incorporated the findings of a declaratory judgment. The
declaratory judgment determined that increases in value of
his separate property during the marriage, namely his
retirement account and a closely-held corporation in which he
owned an interest, were community property.
reverse the declaratory judgment in part, vacate the judgment
of partition, and remand.
Martin and Anna Martin were married on February 14, 2004.
Before and during the marriage, Derek worked for P&M
Services, Inc., a closely-held family corporation in which he
owned a 30% interest. During this time, Anna worked as a
public school teacher. P&M performed plumbing and
industrial maintenance work. Prior to the marriage, Anna and
Derek each had their own retirement account. Anna's
account was through her employment as a public school
teacher. According to Derek's brief, each party made
contributions to their respective accounts before and during
before they married, Derek and Anna executed a marriage
contract ("contract"), which states, in part:
In the event the parties remain married they shall be subject
to the provisions of the Louisiana Revised Civil Code which
establish a community of acquets and gains between husband
and wife. However, should the parties divorce, Derek Van
Martin shall be entitled to all of his interest in P&M
Services, Inc., and all of his interest in his retirement
account. Anna Parker Frederick will be entitled to receive
all funds in her public school employee's retirement
account. Only the remaining property owned by the parties
will be considered community property in the event of a
petition for divorce was filed on February 21, 2008, with the
judgment of divorce rendered on May 15, 2009. On June 8,
2009, Derek filed a petition to partition the community
property. Three years later, the court appointed a special
master to assist the court regarding disputes that Anna and
Derek had concerning the value of reimbursement claims, the
allotment of property, and the appraisal of community
February 5, 2013, Anna filed a petition for declaratory
judgment. Her petition for declaratory judgment was given the
same docket number as the petition for partition. Anna argued
that the phrase "all of his interest" in the
contract did not mean the community's interest, and that
the contract did not reserve to Derek any increase in the
value of P&M or of his retirement account during the
marriage. She further contended that Derek had no interest in
her retirement account under the terms of the contract.
hearing on the petition for a declaratory judgment was held
on May 29, 2013, during which the trial judge told the
parties that after examining the record, he did not see the
need for any testimony. On July 30, 2013, the trial court
rendered judgment declaring that any increases in value of
P&M and of Derek's retirement account during the
existence of the marriage belonged to the community, while
any increase in value of Anna's public school retirement
account during the marriage was her separate property.
filed a motion for new trial on August 22, 2013. The motion
was denied on November 1, 2013. Derek filed a petition for a
devolutive appeal from the declaratory judgment on January
10, 2014. On April 23, 2014, this court entered an order of
dismissal on the grounds that the declaratory judgment was a
partial judgment that was not designated as a final judgment
under La. C.C.P. art. 1915(B) and thus not appealable.
Anna's motion to dismiss the appeal was denied as moot.
hearing before the special master was held on October 19,
2014. On January 28, 2015, the special master provided her
written recommendations and findings of fact. She began by
summarizing the contract before quoting from the declaratory
judgment. She then made her recommendations and findings of
fact, including calculating the amount of the increase in
value of Derek's retirement account during the marriage,
and then determining what Anna was entitled to under the
declaratory judgment. She recognized that under the terms of
the declaratory judgment, Anna was entitled to one-half of
the increase in the value of Derek's interest in P&M
during the marriage. However, the special master was unable
to determine the increase in value of P&M without the
assistance of a certified public accountant
parties objected to the recommendations and findings of fact.
In particular, Derek objected to the two determinations that
were made in accordance with the declaratory judgment. He
added that he felt the court had erred in its ruling in the
declaratory judgment, and he objected to any ruling in
11, 2015, the court agreed to the appointment of a CPA to
determine the value of any increase in the stock of P&M.
The CPA's report was prepared on September 26, 2017.
January 10, 2018, the court rendered a written judgment of
partition. The court adopted the recommendations of the
special master and the CPA's valuation of the increase in
value of P&M and made them a part of the judgment of
has appealed from the ...