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Henna v. Hayashida

Intermediate Court of Appeals of Hawaii

June 19, 2013

LEILA HAYASHIDA HENNA, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Harold Hifuo Hayashida, and as Successor Trustee of the Harold H. Hayashida Revocable Trust, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
NAOMI IWASAKI HAYASHIDA, Defendant-Appellant

NOT FOR PUBLICATION IN WEST'S HAWAII REPORTS OR THE PACIFIC REPORTER

APPEAL FROM THE FAMILY COURT OF THE SECOND CIRCUIT (FC-D NO. 08-1-0657)

On the briefs:

William C. Darrah and Elizabeth C. Melehan, for Defendant-Appellant.

Joy Mademba-Sy Yanagida and Jean-Claude Mademba-Sy, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

Foley, Presiding Judge, Leonard and Reifurth, JJ.

SUMMARY DISPOSITION ORDER

This appeal concerns the division of property in a divorce case, where the property-division order was issued by the Family Court of the Second Circuit ("Family Court")[1] after one of the parties had died. Defendant-Appellant Naomi Iwasaki Hayashida ("Naomi") appeals from the November 18, 2 009 Order Granting Harold Hayashida's Motion for Summary Judgment Re: Transfer of His Inheritance to the Parties' Daughter Was a Valid Conveyance; the January 6, 2010 Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Order; and the April 1, 2010 Supplemental Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Order.

On appeal, [2] Naomi contends that (1) the Family Court should have concluded that she and Plaintiff Harold Hifuo Hayashida ("Harold"), her ex-husband, "made an oral postnuptial agreement following their separation in 1989"; (2) the Family Court should have ordered a new trial where Harold died after their divorce but before the date of the order dividing the marital estate;[3] (3) the Family Court erred in utilizing non-permitted presumptive guidelines when dividing the parties' assets and debts; (4) valid and relevant considerations ("VARCs") potentially justified deviation from marital partnership principles; and (5) the Family Court erred in granting Harold summary judgment, approving the transfer of his interest in real property located at 66 Ala Moana Street, Lahaina, Maui ("Ala Moana St. Property") to Naomi and Harold's daughter, Plaintiff-Appellee Leila Hayashida Henna ("Leila").

Upon careful review of the record and the briefs submitted by the parties, and having given due consideration to the arguments advanced and the issues raised by the parties, we resolve Naomi's points of error as follows:

(1) Naomi argues that the Family Court "should have concluded that Naomi and Harold made an enforceable postnuptial agreement." Naomi contends that the parties made an "oral postnuptial agreement" pursuant to which "Harold received the property at 65 West Kauai Street, his interest in the [Ala Moana St. Property], his retirement, his savings, and all the property his [sic] name alone, and Naomi received the property at 53 8 Waikala Street, her retirement, her savings, and all of the property in her name alone."
"All contracts made between spouses, whenever made . . . and not otherwise invalid because of any other law, shall be valid." Haw. Rev. Stat. § 572-22 (2006); Chen v. Hoeflinger, 127 Hawai'i 346, 356, 279 P.3d 11, 21 (App. 2012) (Hawaii Revised Statutes ("HRS") § 572-22 covers post-nuptial agreements). "[I]n order for an oral contract to be enforceable, there must be an offer, an acceptance, and consideration." Douglass v. Pflueger Haw., Inc., 110 Hawai'i 520, 525, 135 P.3d 129, 134 (2006). Ultimately, "[w]hether or not the parties entered into an agreement is essentially a question of fact." Island Directory Co. v. Iva's Kinimaka Enters., 10 Haw.App. 15, 23, 859 P.2d 935, 94 0 (1993). A trial court's finding that a contract does not exist "will not be disturbed unless it is clearly erroneous." See id.

"The burden of proving the existence and terms of a valid contract is on the party asserting it [.] " 17B C.J.S. Contracts § 926 (2011). "In the case of an oral contract, the party relying on its existence must prove that the contract was clear and precise, and has a particularly heavy burden to establish objective signs of the parties' intent to be bound." Id. (footnote omitted).

At the heart of the alleged agreement is a purported contract under which Harold would transfer title to real property on Waikala St. in Kahului ("Waikala St. Property") and Alahele St. in Kihei ("Alahele St. Property") to Naomi and Naomi would transfer title to real property on W. Kauai St. in Kahului ("W. Kauai St. Property") to Harold. There was a significant amount of testimony from Harold which, on balance, was unsupportive of there being any "agreement."

Although Harold "believed" that "what was hers was hers" and "what was his was his, " and that, at some time before filing for divorce, he also believed that the Waikala St. Property and the Alahele St. Property should go to Naomi and the W. Kauai St. Property should go to him, he admitted to no ...


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