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Ryder v. Ryder

Supreme Court of Nebraska

April 10, 2015

DEBRA S. RYDER, APPELLANT,
v.
ROCKY R. RYDER, APPELLEE

Page 450

Appeal from the District Court for Cheyenne County: DEREK C. WEIMER, Judge.

Joel B. Jay for appellant.

No appearance for appellee.

HEAVICAN, C.J., WRIGHT, CONNOLLY, STEPHAN, MCCORMACK, MILLER-LERMAN, and CASSEL, JJ.

OPINION

Page 451

[290 Neb. 649] Cassel, J.

INTRODUCTION

In a marital dissolution proceeding, the parties' property settlement agreement required the husband to " assist" the wife in obtaining a bank loan to purchase a residence. The dissolution decree adopted the agreement. Later, the bank declined to make the loan without the husband's cosignature. On the husband's motion, the district court vacated the assistance clause as ambiguous. The wife appeals.

We conclude that in the absence of fraud or gross inequity, the district court abused its discretion in vacating the portion of the decree implementing the assistance clause. We vacate the portion of its order purporting to do so. Because the district court did not determine whether the assistance clause had been satisfied, we remand with direction that it do so.

BACKGROUND

Debra S. Ryder and Rocky R. Ryder's marriage was dissolved via a decree entered in June 2013. Prior to the decree, Debra [290 Neb. 650] and Rocky entered into a " Property Settlement Agreement and Parenting Plan," providing for the disposition of various items of property. Rocky was granted the marital residence, which was his before the marriage. Thus, the agreement required Debra to leave the marital home.

Anticipating her need for different housing, the parties signed an agreement with a third party to acquire a residence on Ash Street in Sidney, Nebraska. The agreement is not in the record. Thus, the record is unclear whether the purchase agreement was signed before or after the

Page 452

signing of the property settlement, although Debra testified that she was the last to sign and that she did so in August 2013--which would have been after the property settlement agreement was signed and the decree was entered.

In the property settlement agreement, Rocky agreed that he

shall assist [Debra] in obtaining a loan from Points West Bank in Sidney for up to Ninety-four Thousand Dollars ($94,000.00) in order to purchase the residence located at . . . Ash Street, Sidney, NE[,] and will do the work necessary to place the home in marketable condition, as determined by a Sidney realtor, prior to [Debra] moving into said home. [Rocky] shall have said house in marketable condition no later than December 31, 2013.

In the dissolution decree, the district court acknowledged the above provision of the property settlement agreement and ordered Rocky to comply with his obligations as to the Ash Street residence.

On December 19, 2013, Rocky filed a " Motion for an Order to Vacate and Modify Divorce Decree or in the Alternative to Deem Judgment Satisfied," pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. ยง 25-2001 (Reissue 2008). Rocky alleged that he had assisted Debra in obtaining a loan from Points West Bank, but that Debra was unwilling to enter into the loan agreement. And he further claimed that ...


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