Court of Appeals of Ohio, Seventh District, Noble
ELISABETH J. ROCHUS, FKA ELISABETH J. THOMPSON PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE
DENNIS THOMPSON DEFENDANT-APPELLANT
from the Court of Common Pleas, Domestic Relations Division,
Noble County, Ohio Case No. 207-0030
Plaintiff-Appellee Attorney Stephanie Church
Defendant-Appellant Attorney Clifford Sickler
JUDGES: Hon. Mary DeGenaro Hon. Cheryl L. Waite Hon. Carol
Defendant-Appellant, Dennis J. Thompson, appeals the trial
court's judgment granting Plaintiff-Appellee Elisabeth J.
Thompson, n.k.a. Elisabeth J. Rochus's motion to enforce
the divorce decree and ordering that, pursuant to the decree,
Rochus was entitled to one-half of a bonus payment from an
amended oil and gas lease. For the following reasons,
Thompson's assignments of error are meritless, and the
judgment is affirmed.
Rochus filed a complaint for divorce against Thompson and the
case proceeded to a final, contested divorce hearing on July
24, 2007. In 1999, while still married, the parties entered
into an oil and gas lease with the Oxford Oil Company with
respect to 120 acres they owned in Stock Township.
Pertinent to this appeal, following the presentation of
testimony and evidence, the trial court issued a decision in
advance of the final decree, which determined: "Oil and
gas exploration is in progress on the Stock Township acreage.
That real estate is valued at $65, 000.00. The current
rent/royalties from production should be divided one/half to
each party and action taken to have the appropriate division
orders sent to the royalty payer." All other mineral
rights to the parties' various parcels of real estate
were retained by Thompson.
A final decree of divorce was issued on November 20, 2007 and
a nunc pro tunc decree followed on August 20, 2008. Within
the decree, the trial court ruled: "The Stock Township
property has oil and gas expiration [sic] in progress. The
rents and royalties received from said production shall be
divided with each party receiving one-half (1/2)
thereof." The trial court further determined: "All
future oil and gas royalties Paid by Oxford Oil or Devco Oil
shall be divided equally between the parties. Oxford Oil
and/or Devco Oil are ordered to disburse one-half of each
future royalty payment to Dennis J Thompson at 134 Main
Street, Summerfield, Ohio 43788 and one-half directly to
Elisabeth J Rochus at 54880 SR 566, Senecaville, Ohio
43780." Finally, the trial court ordered the
"[r]eal estate owned by the parties shall be and become
the sole property of the Defendant/Husband, free and clear of
any claims of the Plaintiff/Wife."
With respect to the Stock Township property, Rochus
quit-claimed her interest to Thompson, which contained the
following reservation: "Grantor reserves her one half
interest in all future oil and gas royalties paid by Oxford
Oil and or [sic] Devco Oil pursuant to Judgment Entry Decree
of Divorce Case No. 207-0030 filed November 20, 2007."
There are no other reservations of record as to mineral
The oil and gas lease on the Stock Township property was
eventually assigned to a new lessee, Eclipse Resources-Ohio,
LLC. Thompson renegotiated the terms of the lease and entered
into an amended lease on March 5, 2015, which permitted the
leasehold acreage to be pooled with other lands to create a
larger drilling unit to facilitate hydraulic fracturing.
Among other things, the amended lease increased the royalty
percentage from 12.5% (a standard 1/8 royalty) to 15% and
provided a bonus payment of $1, 500.00 per net mineral acre.
On November 18, 2015, Rochus filed a motion to enforce the
divorce decree. She asserted that as she was granted one-half
of the rents and royalties, she was also entitled to one-half
of the bonus payment. Thompson opposed the motion. In a
February 18, 2016 judgment entry, the trial court granted
The issue involves acreage in Stock Township. At the time of
the Court's decree, that acreage was subject to an
existing oil and gas lease and exploration for oil and gas
was underway. Any "rents" and "any royalties
received from said production" were to be divided
equally to the two parties.
Defendant has apparently negotiated some changes to the
existing lease, and a "bonus payment" is now due