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Fernando v. Fernando

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Tenth District

December 29, 2017

Champa Fernando, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Shanaka J. Fernando, Defendant-Appellant.

         APPEAL from the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, Division of Domestic Relations (C.P.C. No. 15DR-450)

         On brief:

          Petroff Law Offices, LLC, Ronald R. Petroff, and Michelle J. Askins, for appellee.

          Atkins and Atkins Attorneys at Law, Jacqueline Baumann, and Arianna Atkins, for appellant.

          DECISION

          DORRIAN, J.

         {¶ 1} Defendant-appellant, Shanaka J. Fernando, appeals the October 19, 2016 judgment entry and final decree of divorce entered by the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, Division of Domestic Relations. For the following reasons, we affirm in part and reverse in part.

         I. Facts and Procedural History

         {¶ 2} Appellant and plaintiff-appellee, Champa Fernando, were married on January 6, 1996, and three children were born as issue of the marriage. On February 10, 2015, appellee filed a complaint for divorce. On January 22, 2016, the parties submitted an agreed entry settling their personal property issues. On March 4, 2016, the parties submitted and the trial court accepted a document containing agreed joint stipulations and a divorce settlement memorandum. As relevant to the present appeal, the parties stipulated that, in addition to the marital residence located in Dublin, Ohio, they were joint owners of five properties located in Sri Lanka: one located in Seeduwa ("the Seeduwa property"), three located in Bollatha ("the Bollatha properties"), and one located in Colombo ("the Colombo property"). The parties stipulated appellee would retain the marital residence and appellant would be entitled to a share of the equity of the marital residence, as determined by the court. The parties also entered stipulations regarding their automobiles, spousal support, life insurance, retirement accounts, financial accounts, and custody of their children.

         {¶ 3} A hearing was conducted in early March 2016, with the final day of the hearing occurring on March 15, 2016. Following the hearing, on October 19, 2016, the trial court entered a judgment granting a final decree of divorce. With respect to the Sri Lankan properties, the divorce decree provided appellant would retain the Seeduwa property and the Bollatha properties. The decree further provided that the land portion of the Colombo property was appellee's separate property, and appellee would retain it. The court held the building located on the Colombo property was marital property, and each of the parties was entitled to one-half of the equity in that structure. The trial court also held appellee was entitled to half of the profits from the sale of another Sri Lankan property ("the Ja-Ela property") the parties previously owned, which appellant sold in 2013. The decree further provided for division of the parties' automobiles and other assets and accounts, and for custody of the children.

         II. Assignments of Error

         {¶ 4} Appellant appeals and assigns the following six assignments of error for our review:

[I.] The lower court in its Judgment Entry Decree of Divorce erred and abused its discretion by determining the parties' de facto termination of marriage date was after the date of the final hearing.
[II.] The lower court in its Judgment Entry Decree of Divorce erred and abused its discretion by failing to make an equitable division of martial property when it excluded the value of the cars in the property division.
[III.] The lower court in its Judgment Entry Decree of Divorce erred and abused its discretion by failing to make an equitable division of martial property when the court chose an arbitrary amount in determining the value of the Colombo property.
[IV.] The lower court in its Judgment Entry Decree of Divorce erred and abused its discretion in determining the amount of rental income received by Appellee for purposes of property division.
[V.] The lower court in its Judgment Entry Decree of Divorce erred and abused its discretion in including the proceeds of the Ja-Ela property in the division of property which resulted in an inequitable division of property.
[VI.] The lower court in its Judgment Entry Decree of Divorce erred and abused its discretion in determining that the land located on the Colombo property was Appellee's separate property.

         III. Discussion

         A. Duration of the Marriage for Property Valuation

         {¶ 5} In his first assignment of error, appellant asserts the trial court abused its discretion by holding that the parties' marriage terminated as of the date of the final judgment entry rather than the date of the final hearing. Appellant argues the trial court effectively found a de facto termination date that was contrary to the statutory ...


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