Rick J. Lindsey, Appellee,
Karen M. Lindsey, Appellant.
District Court, Heber Department The Honorable Fred D. Howard
Douglas B. Thayer and Mark R. Nelson, Attorneys for Appellant
C. Andreasen, Diana L. Telfer, Troy L. Booher, and Julie J.
Nelson, Attorneys for Appellee
Jill M. Pohlman authored this Opinion, in which Judges
Stephen L. Roth and David N. Mortensen concurred.
Rick J. Lindsey and Karen M. Lindsey were married for almost
twenty years, and during that time the value of Mr.
Lindsey's premarital business interests substantially
appreciated. The issue on appeal is whether the trial court
properly granted summary judgment awarding those business
interests solely to Mr. Lindsey, as his separate property,
during the Lindseys' divorce proceeding. We affirm.
Mr. and Ms. Lindsey were married in November
1996.They had one child together, and
they each had minor children from prior marriages. The
parties initiated divorce proceedings in early 2013, and they
obtained a decree of divorce in 2015.
Both before and during the marriage, Mr. Lindsey held
considerable business interests in the insurance industry.
When the parties married in 1996, Mr. Lindsey owned Evolution
Insurance Group and its subsidiaries (collectively,
Evolution) and was part owner of Prime Holdings Insurance
Services Inc. and its subsidiaries (collectively, Prime
Holdings). In November 1997, about a year after the parties
married, Mr. Lindsey's interests in Evolution were merged
into Prime Holdings. Mr. Lindsey then became CEO of Prime
Holdings and obtained a substantial ownership interest in
At that time, Mr. Lindsey's business interests were
valued at approximately $3.6 million. During the parties' marriage, those
interests appreciated in value. By December 2012, Mr.
Lindsey's equity in Prime Holdings was worth
approximately $6 to $7 million. And in June 2014, Mr.
Lindsey's equity in Prime Holdings was valued at
approximately $10.9 million.
Due to Mr. Lindsey's employment with Prime Holdings as
well as his ownership of Prime Holdings stock, the Lindseys
enjoyed a high standard of living during their marriage. Mr.
Lindsey was highly compensated via his annual salary, bonus,
car allowance, and vacation payout. Due to his equity in the
company, Mr. Lindsey also received large cash dividends from
Prime Holdings between 2011 and the end of 2012, which
totaled over $2 million. Because Mr. Lindsey elected to
receive certain dividends in stock rather than cash, Mr.
Lindsey also received fifty-seven shares of Prime Holdings
stock between 2004 and 2012.
Ms. Lindsey was not employed outside the home at the time of
the parties' marriage or during the marriage. Ms. Lindsey
was responsible for meeting many of the parties'
household and family needs, while Mr. Lindsey handled most of
the parties' finances and most of the tasks related to
financing and building their marital home.
Ms. Lindsey also supported Mr. Lindsey's efforts to
strengthen relationships with his clientele. When clients or
business associates came to visit, sometimes with their
families, Ms. Lindsey took on the additional responsibilities
associated with those visits-preparing guest rooms and
welcome baskets, cooking, cleaning, assisting in laundry, and
entertaining. On one occasion, she even loaned her car to
their visiting guests. But Ms. Lindsey did not otherwise
provide services for Prime Holdings or act as its employee.
As noted above, in early 2013 the parties initiated divorce
proceedings. They resolved by stipulation many issues related
to their separation, but they were unable to agree on the
amount of alimony to be paid to Ms. Lindsey, the division of
their marital property, and whether or how Mr. Lindsey's
business interests would be divided.
Mr. Lindsey moved for partial summary judgment asserting
that, as a matter of law, his premarital interests in
Evolution and Prime Holdings, together with any appreciation
or enhancement of their value, were his separate property. He
asserted that he was presumptively entitled to retain that
property following divorce and no equitable principles called
for a different result.
To preempt any argument to the contrary, Mr. Lindsey averred
that his premarital business interests had not been
commingled with the marital estate or augmented, maintained,
or protected by any effort of Ms. Lindsey. Mr. Lindsey also
asserted that no extraordinary circumstances warranted
awarding a portion of his business interests to Ms. Lindsey,
arguing that the parties had benefitted from Mr.
Lindsey's work efforts while married; Ms. Lindsey's
contributions to the marriage would "be reflected in an
award of alimony"; and the rate of return on his
business interests was below average for a closely held
company and attributable to his premarital holdings rather
than Mr. Lindsey's work effort while married,
particularly given the significant salary and dividends
received by Mr. Lindsey during the marriage. Thus, according
to Mr. Lindsey, there was "no marital value" in his
In response, Ms. Lindsey did not challenge the initial
characterization of Mr. Lindsey's business interests as
his separate property. Rather, she asserted that separate
property may become subject to equitable distribution when it
has been consumed or has lost its identity through
commingling; when "the other spouse has contributed to
the enhancement, maintenance, or protection of that
property"; or when "the distribution of separate
property achieves a fair, just, and equitable result."
Ms. Lindsey claimed that all three principles applied and
that factual disputes precluded resolution of those issues on
With regard to commingling, Ms. Lindsey asserted that, at one
point in the marriage, she had been "aware that [Mr.
Lindsey] needed money for his business." Therefore, when
she received $54, 000 from the sale of real property she had
owned with her prior husband, she "turned the money
over" to Mr. Lindsey, who "took [it] and told [her]
he put it into his business." Ms. Lindsey also alleged
that, among other things, Mr. Lindsey's acquisition of
fifty-seven shares of Prime Holdings stock during the
parties' marriage created a fact issue as to commingling
because "[a]ll dividends ha[d] been historically used in
the marriage as marital income."
As to her enhancement of Mr. Lindsey's business
interests, Ms. Lindsey cited her "efforts to grow [the]
business" by entertaining and hosting business-related
guests; discussing Mr. Lindsey's business in
conversations with him; supporting Mr. Lindsey in his
profession; and enabling Mr. Lindsey to attend to his
business by caring for the parties' child and other
children from prior marriages, maintaining the parties'
residence, and attending to other household duties.
Finally, Ms. Lindsey asserted that the court could
"award an interest in [separate property] when equity
requires." Ms. Lindsey argued, without elaboration, that
the trial court was required to consider several factors
before fashioning an equitable property division, and
"it [would be] more appropriate . . . to hear the
equitable issues more fully at trial where the [c]ourt can
observe the parties' demeanor" and "hear all
the evidence." Ms. Lindsey asserted that if the court
awarded Mr. Lindsey's business interests to him, prior to
trial, the court might not be able to achieve an equitable
outcome, but she did not specify how that might occur or
point to disputed facts that would bar summary judgment on
On reply, Mr. Lindsey addressed each allegedly disputed fact
in turn. With regard to commingling, Mr. Lindsey submitted a
forensic accountant's declaration that the fifty-seven
shares of Prime Holdings received during the marriage were
not marital income but "a return on Mr. Lindsey's
premarital stock holdings." Regarding the $54, 000
allegedly provided to him for investment in Prime Holdings,
Mr. Lindsey pointed to Ms. Lindsey's deposition, in which
she stated that she did not remember "exactly the
conversation [they] had the day [she] handed [Mr. Lindsey]
the check, " and that Mr. Lindsey "[c]ould have
done anything" with it-like depositing it into
"[s]ome joint account of his" or
"possibl[y]" depositing it into her marital
account. Mr. Lindsey claimed the $54, 000 went toward
"marital expenses, " and he submitted a declaration
from Prime Holdings' CFO, who reported that none of the
Lindseys' "personal funds . . . were invested in
Prime Holdings" during the relevant year.
As to the alleged enhancement of his business, Mr. Lindsey
noted that neither Ms. Lindsey's household duties nor her
clientele-related activities were in dispute. According to
Mr. Lindsey, even assuming Ms. Lindsey's claims in that
regard were correct, she had never been involved "in the
creation, organization, development, or growth of [his]
business nor was she ever ...