Appeal by defendant from order entered 4 April 1997 by Judge Shelly S. Holt in New Hanover County District Court. Heard in the Court of Appeals 23 March 1998.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Horton, Judge.
On 22 August 1995, plaintiff filed a complaint seeking a divorce from defendant and requesting equitable distribution of the marital property. On 5 July 1996, the trial court entered an absolute divorce.
Following a subsequent hearing, the trial court entered an order in which it found the following items to be marital property: a profit sharing account in defendant's name valued at $4,472.00; a retirement savings plan in defendant's name valued at $6,353.00; a pension plan in defendant's name valued at $2,925.00; a comforter valued at $200.00; a vase valued at $50.00; a tray valued at $50.00; a clock valued at $25.00; glasses valued at $50.00; a pillow valued at $20.00; china valued at $300.00; a dog valued at $550.00; and stock valued at $69,647.00. The trial court also found that plaintiff failed to rebut the presumption that real property purchased during the marriage, a house on Bradley Creek Point Road in Wilmington (hereinafter "Bradley Creek") valued at $760,000.00, was marital property. The trial court further found that $32,253.78 paid by defendant to a contractor after the parties separated was a marital debt. Another $3,585.16 paid by plaintiff for renovations to Bradley Creek was also found to be marital debt.
The trial court then found each party contended he or she was entitled to an unequal distribution of the marital property. The trial court made findings of fact as to distributional factors as follows:
a. The parties' marriage was of a very short duration, lasting only 10 months. North Carolina General Statute § 50-20(c)(3).
b. Plaintiff is 52 years of age and is in generally good health. Plaintiff was treated for depression before, during and after the marriage, but is not currently being treated for depression. Defendant is 42 years of age and in good health. Defendant has "back problems." North Carolina General Statute § 50-20(c)(3).
c. The Plaintiff's separate estate as of the date of marriage, was $5,321,157.00, and, as of the date of separation, was $6,285,792.00. No evidence was presented as to the value of his separate estate as of the time of trial, other than the use of $898,231.22 in separate funds to purchase and renovate Bradley Creek. North Carolina General Statute §§ 50-20(c)(1), 50- 20(c)(6) and 50-20(c)(11a).
d. The Defendant's separate estate, as of the date of separation, was $172,159.00 and had appreciated by approximately $48,000.00 between the date of separation and the time of the trial. No value has been placed on the stock option referred to elsewhere in paragraph 31 of this Order. North Carolina General Statute § 50-20(c)(1).
e. Defendant currently owes about $12,000.00 on a boat which she bought for $15,000.00 after the separation. North Carolina General Statute § 50-20(c)(1).
f. Currently Plaintiff has investment income of $50,000.00 to $75,000.00 per year, while Defendant has employment income between $105,000.00 to $110,000.00 per year. North Carolina General Statute § 50-20(c)(1).
g. Plaintiff is a licensed attorney, but has never practiced in the area of family law. Plaintiff practiced as an attorney for approximately three years, ending his practice in 1973. North Carolina General Statute § 50-20(c)(12).
h. The Trial Court has considered as a distributional factor the circumstances and manner in which Bradley Creek was acquired, as described in Findings of Fact 10 through 25 above. Plaintiff made the offer to purchase Bradley Creek prior to the parties' marriage, and in fact prior to the parties' engagement. The original closing date was prior to the parties' marriage, but was rescheduled and actually took place after the parties['] marriage. North Carolina General Statute §§ 50-20(c)(6) and 50-20(c)(12).
i. Defendant contributed her time and efforts, both before and during the marriage, to the planning, design, and implementation of the renovations to Bradley Creek. North Carolina General Statute §§ 50-20(c)(6) and 50- 20(c)(12).
j. The entire purchase price of $607,918.41 for Bradley Creek came from Plaintiff's separate property funds. North Carolina General Statute ...