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Balogh v. Balogh

Intermediate Court of Appeals of Hawaii

August 12, 2013

SANDRA C.J. BALOGH, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
DONALD RAYMOND BALOGH, Defendant-Appellee

NOT FOR PUBLICATION IN WEST'S HAWAI'I REPORTS AND PACIFIC REPORTER

APPEAL FROM THE FAMILY COURT OF THE FIRST CIRCUIT (FC-DIVORCE NO. 10-1-0149)

On the briefs: Stephen T. Hioki for Plaintiff-Appellant.

Chunmay Chang and Craig W. Polanzi for Defendant-Appellee.

Reifurth and Ginoza, JJ., with Foley, Presiding Judge, concurring separately.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiff-Appellant Sandra C.J. Balogh ("Wife") appeals from the December 2, 2 011 Divorce Decree ("Decree") and the February 15, 2012 Findings Of Fact And Conclusions Of Law entered in the Family Court of the First Circuit[1] ("Family Court"). The Family Court dissolved Wife's marriage to Defendant-Appellee Donald Raymond Balogh ("Husband") and divided and distributed the parties' property pursuant to Hawaii Revised Statutes ("HRS") § 580-47 (2006 Repl.).

I. BACKGROUND

The parties married on June 19, 1981 in New Jersey. After moving to Oahu in October 2003, the couple began constructing a home on a vacant lot they had purchased at Kahalakua Street ("Property"). The parties held title to the Property as tenants by the entirety.

On October 6, 2008, following a period of tension between the parties, Husband handwrote a document stating that if the couple separated, Wife would receive 75% of the sale proceeds from the Property, the contents of their home excluding Husband's clothing and tools, and all vehicles. Both parties signed this agreement. On October 24, 2008, Wife prepared a typewritten Memo of Understanding ("MOU") stating the above terms and adding that Wife would receive $100, 000 in cash from Husband in lieu of alimony and court proceedings. The parties intended that the MOU would supersede the October 6, 2008 agreement. The parties signed the MOU before a notary public.

On August 15, 2009, Husband agreed to leave their home because of the ongoing tension. On September 1, 2009, Husband signed a quitclaim deed stating that Husband transferred his interest in the Property to Wife as tenant in severalty[2] in consideration of $10. At the time, Husband had already moved out of the Property. He met with Wife to execute the deed before a notary public.

Wife filed a complaint for divorce on January 14, 2010. On August 16, 2011, the Family Court orally ruled in pertinent part that it was awarding each party a one-half interest in the Property, notwithstanding the quitclaim deed, and the court set the value of the Property at $1.6 million. The Decree, entered December 2, 2011, reflected the Family Court's oral ruling regarding the Property. The Family Court entered its findings of fact and conclusions of law ("COLs") on February 15, 2012 with the following pertinent COLs:

N. After thirty years of marriage, the Court concludes it would be unconscionable to award [Wife] the [Property]- by enforcing the Quitclaim Deed. Kuroda v. Kuroda, 87 [Hawai'i] 419, 958 P.2d 541 ([App.] 1998); and Lewis v. Lewis, 69 Haw. 497, 748 P.2d 1362 (1988).
O. Further, after considering their testimony, the Court finds that the parties were motivated to save the marriage when they signed the various agreements. When [Husband] signed the Quitclaim Deed, [Husband] was protecting their marital home from potential lawsuits and had no intent of permanently transferring his interest to [Wife]. Neither party intended their marriage to result in a divorce and to divide their marital estate accordingly.
P. The Court finds [Husband] was suffering from extreme distress as a result of the ongoing construction of their [Property], the contractor's walk-off and lawsuit in 2006, the penalties assessed by [The Association of Owners of KahalaKua ("AOAO")] and parties' lawsuit against AOAO, his high security clearance job which also required twenty-four hour/seven days on call one week a month, the continuing issues with the subcontractors, and his uncontrollable obsessive behavior that escalated from his backyard nudity to public display, his shame and embarrassment, his fear of being discovered, and the constant argument with [Wife] about his inappropriate behavior. At the same time, [Wife] suspected him of infidelity which further exacerbated the marital relationship and ...

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