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Stocker v. Stocker

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Third District, Hancock

November 6, 2017

JENNIFER L. STOCKER, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
HANS S. STOCKER, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.

         Appeal from Hancock County Common Pleas Court Domestic Relations Division Trial Court No. 2014-DR-340

          Jose M. Lopez for Appellant.

          Bret A. Spaeth for Appellee.

          OPINION

          SHAW, J.

         {¶1} Defendant-appellant, Hans S. Stocker, appeals the April 19, 2017 Amended Judgment Entry/Decree of Divorce issued by the Hancock County Court of Common Pleas, Domestic Relations Division, granting him a divorce from plaintiff-appellee, Jennifer L. Stocker. On appeal, Hans argues that the trial court erred in accepting an appraisal of the marital residence submitted by Jennifer, in accepting the value his expert assigned to the parties' business, and in failing to apply the $150, 000 combined income level cap in determining his child support obligation.

         Facts and Procedural History

         {¶2} The parties were married on May 31, 1997. Three children were born during the marriage in 1998, 2001, and 2004.

         {¶3} In 2010, the parties created Norville Enterprises, LLC ("Norville Enterprises"), an entity which owns a franchised operation of Adam and Eve, an adult novelty retail store. Even though the parties owned the business together, it is undisputed that Jennifer operated the business on a day-to-day basis.

         {¶4} On October 9, 2014, Jennifer filed a complaint for divorce alleging the parties to be incompatible. Hans timely filed an answer and a counterclaim for divorce on the same ground.

         {¶5} The case proceeded to a final evidentiary hearing before the magistrate on October 22 and 23, 2015. At issue between the parties was the allocation of parenting time and child support, the division of certain personal property, the value and allocation of the marital residence, and the value of Norville Enterprises, of which the parties agreed that Jennifer would retain sole ownership after the divorce.

         {¶6} On February 17, 2016, the magistrate issued a decision. Relative to the issues raised on appeal, the magistrate recommended that Jennifer be designated the residential parent of the children with Hans paying $1, 276.71 per month in child support, plus processing and with provision for cash medical support. In reaching his recommendation regarding child support, the magistrate found that it was just and appropriate not to deviate from the child support worksheets, despite the fact that the parties' combined annual income exceeded $150, 000. See R.C. 3119.04(B).

         {¶7} At the final divorce hearing, both Jennifer and Hans submitted professional appraisals of the marital home. The magistrate chose to accept the appraisal submitted by Jennifer which valued the home at $290, 000. The magistrate recommended that Jennifer retain possession of the marital home, subject to the $180, 521.70 mortgage. With respect to the value of Norville Enterprises, the magistrate heard testimony from a CPA, with a certified specialization in business valuation, who calculated the value of Norville Enterprises to be $337, 757 using an "income approach" to valuation. After allocating the remaining marital property, the magistrate recommended that Jennifer pay Hans $57, 589.13 to equalize the division of property between the parties.

         {¶8} Hans timely filed objections to the magistrate's decision, raising the issues of the magistrate's recommendation not to apply the $150, 000 combined income cap on the child support obligation and the values assigned to the marital home and the business.

         {¶9} On March 2, 2017, the trial court overruled Hans' objections to the magistrate's decision, and on April 19, 2017, the trial court issued an Amended Judgment Entry/Decree of Divorce issuing orders consistent with the recommendations in the magistrate's decision.

         {¶10} Hans filed this appeal, asserting the following assignments error.

         ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR NO. 1

         THE TRIAL COURT ERRED AND ACTED CONTRARY TO LAW WHEN IT DETERMINED THE VALUE OF THE ...


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