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Baird-Sallaz v. Sallaz

Supreme Court of Idaho

September 19, 2014

RENEE L. BAIRD-SALLAZ, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
DENNIS J. SALLAZ, Defendant-Appellant and JEREMY J. GUGINO, Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Trustee for the Bankruptcy Estate of Renee L. Baird, Intervenor-Respondent,

2014 Opinion No. 101.

Appeal from the district court of the Fourth Judicial District of the State of Idaho, Ada County. Hon. Kathryn A. Sticklen, District Judge. Hon. David Epis, Magistrate Judge.

The district court's intermediate appellate decision upholding division of community property by magistrate in divorce action, affirmed. Attorney's fees and costs on appeal are awarded to intervenor.

Vernon K. Smith, Boise, attorney for appellant.

Renee L. Baird, Caldwell, respondent Pro se.

WALTERS, J., pro tem. Chief Justice BURDICK, Justices J. JONES, HORTON and Justice pro tem KIDWELL CONCUR.

OPINION

Page 276

[157 Idaho 343] WALTERS, J., pro tem

I. Nature of the Case

This appeal is a collateral attack on a 2005 decree of divorce entered in the magistrate division of the district court finding that Dennis Sallaz and Renee Baird were married in Oregon in 1996. The magistrate subsequently divided the community property in a judgment entered in 2012. This appeal is brought from the 2012 judgment. Sallaz argues that the marriage was not valid under Oregon law and consequently that the magistrate lacked subject matter jurisdiction to

Page 277

[157 Idaho 344] determine and divide property. The district court sitting in its capacity as the intermediate appellate court held that the magistrate had subject matter jurisdiction to determine and divide the property in question. We affirm the district court's intermediate appellate decision.

II. Factual and Procedural Background

Dennis Sallaz and Renee Baird mutually participated in a marriage ceremony in Oregon on July 4, 1996. On May 27, 2004, Baird filed a complaint for divorce in the magistrate's division of the district court in Ada County, Idaho. Sallaz, in his answer to the complaint, admitted the allegation of marriage to Baird. Sallaz also testified at trial that he married Baird on July 4, 1996.

The magistrate court entered a partial decree at the request of the parties, granting the divorce on August 24, 2005. The decree included a certificate in accordance with Idaho Rule of Civil Procedure (I.R.C.P.) 54(b) certifying the decree as a final judgment upon which execution may issue and an appeal may be taken. Neither party ever appealed from the certified judgment. The magistrate court conducted a subsequent trial regarding the division of property and debts, and issued its amended findings of fact and conclusions of law on October 30, 2007. The magistrate court found that Sallaz and Baird were married on July 4, 1996, and divorced by the decree in 2005. After several post-trial motions, the magistrate court entered an amended order on January 4, 2012, settling the property and debt issues. Sallaz filed a notice of appeal to the district court on February 9, 2012. On April 19, 2012, Baird filed for Chapter 7 relief in bankruptcy. The filing of the bankruptcy petition stayed the appeal in the district court until Sallaz received permission from the bankruptcy court to pursue the appeal. Jeremy Gugino, the bankruptcy trustee, intervened in the appeal as a real party in interest.

While the appeal from the magistrate's division was pending before the district court sitting in its capacity as the intermediate appellate court, Sallaz filed an independent action in Ada County asserting for the first time that the Oregon marriage was invalid.[1] The bankruptcy trustee intervened and filed a motion to dismiss the action on the basis that it was an impermissible collateral ...


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