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La Rue v La Rue  Betty petitioned for her to be awarded ½

Effects of Decree: Dissolution and Liquidation of ACP interest in all personal property of Walter,
or PCG| No. 15578 (May 25, 1983)| Miller, J. | By undivided ½ of interest in all real estate of
Nebres, Clark R. Walter, conveyance to her of all real and
personal property in name and control of
Recit Summary: Walter, and a reservation for her of a dower
 Betty and Walter La Rue were married for interest in the real property of Walter.
30 years before divorcing mainly due  Her petition was denied because she failed
irreconcilable differences (mainly Walter’s to prove that they had a contract saying the
abusive conduct) marital assets were to be equally owned, or
 Betty was mainly the homemaker of the that any of her earnings were invested in
marriage any property titled in Walter’s name.
 The divorce settlement only gave Betty  Early in the marriage, the couple had a
some alimony, not any distribution of their home in Wyoming w/c was jointly named
marital assets title until it was sold. The proceeds were re-
 These included a house that was originally invested in another home w/c was titled
named solely to Betty right before the after Betty only. Walter had Betty sign a deed
divorce, she signed over the title to Walter. transferring the title to his name only. She
She admitted she signed many things w/o did not remember signing it but admitted
reading at the request of her husband. she signed many papers without reading
 She petitioned she was entitled to an them at her husband’s request. Deed was
equitable distribution and won at the SC signed at time when marriage was beginning
 SC said her economic contributions (at the to deteriorate, but not recorded until Nov.
start of the marriage she worked and 1979, after parties’ separation. She tried to
contributed 51k to the marriage), and her sue to set aside the transfer but was denied
homemaker services (stayed at home and due to her inability to prove mistake or
took care of the house and kids for a long fraud of sale
time, thus did not have a career) entitled
her to equitable distribution to be weighed Issues & Ratio:
against Walter’s contribution and the net
assets  Is Betty entitled to a portion of the assets?
Facts: First, the court ruled in her favor over the
 Betty and Walter La Rue married in 1950 divorce. Walter was the more damaging
 It was a traditional marriage in the sense party (due to abuse) thus, she is entitled to
that Walter exclusively handled their alimony
financial affairs while Betty was an
unemployed homemaker Second, she may claim her shares through
 Divorce granted over irreconcilable equitable distribution?
differences, but tipping point was that Yes, No sufficient West Virginia Law on
Walter was abusive equitable distribution thus court adopted
 Their gross income in the last year of their two types:
marriage was 43k, and out of 30 years of a. Based on her economic
marriage, Betty was only employed in the contributions during the marriage
early years, with her gross earnings over 7  She had contributed 51k
years amounting to 51k during early working days.
 With the children all grown, the divorce only This will be compared w/
awarded Betty some alimony, no Walter’s contributions
distribution of marital assets (parties also did weighed against the net
not agree on division of items except for assets at the time of the
some personal property) divorce
B. Based on her homemaker
 As with their traditional
marriage, while her
husband worked, she took
care of the home and the
kids over a considerable
period of time, when she
could have pursued a
career instead, thus
entitling her to some
equitable consideration
weighed w/ the net assets
 Take into consideration
the health, age, skills,
length of marriage
 No mechanical formula
when determining value
but contribution

See pertinent provisions:

Equitable distribution
 permits a spouse, who has made a material
economic contribution toward the
acquisition of property which is titled in the
name of or under the control of the other
spouse, to claim an equitable interest in such
property in a proceeding seeking a divorce
(Patterson v Patterson)
 Rests upon concepts of unjust enrichment
 Can only be brought up as an incident to a
final divorce, as opposed to constructive
trust (the unjustly enriched would transfer
the property to the intended person)
 "Net assets" does not include assets
acquired by a party prior to the marriage, or
obtained during the marriage by way of
inheritance or gifts from third parties.
 Claims for equitable distribution may be
settled and foreclosed by property
settlement agreements fairly negotiated by
the parties as in the case of other property
settlement agreements.