IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF: GAYLENE R. CRAWFORD, Petitioner/Appellee,
DONALD W. CRAWFORD, Respondent/Appellant.
Mandate Issued: 11/28/2017
FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF OKMULGEE COUNTY, OKLAHOMA
HONORABLE KEN ADAIR, TRIAL JUDGE
Wiemer, Okmulgee, Oklahoma, for Petitioner/Appellee
Little, DOERNER SAUNDERS DANIEL & ANDERSON, LLP, Tulsa,
Oklahoma, for Respondent/Appellant
DEBORAH B. BARNES, PRESIDING JUDGE.
This appeal arises from the divorce proceedings of Donald W.
Crawford (Husband) and Gaylene R. Crawford (Wife).
Husband appeals from the parties' divorce decree, as well
as from the trial court's order granting, in part,
Wife's request for attorney fees and costs, and from the
trial court's order denying Husband's "Motion to
Reconsider and Modify" the decree. Based on our review,
The parties were married in Oklahoma in 1984. They had three
children during the marriage. In 2009, Wife filed a petition
In the divorce decree, filed in October 2013, the trial court
granted the parties a divorce on the ground of
incompatibility. Two of the parties' three children had
reached the age of majority prior to trial. As to the
parties' one minor child, joint legal custody was awarded
to the parties, and child support was awarded based on
Husband having a gross monthly income of $6, 200, and Wife
having a gross monthly income of $2, 000. 
The trial court also divided the marital property and awarded
Wife support alimony. The parties owned a 35-acre tract of
property where the marital home, as well as a cell phone
tower, are located. The cell phone tower was constructed by a
lessee as part of a lease agreement executed in 1999. That
lease agreement provides that the lessee is leasing the
premises "for the purpose of constructing, operating,
maintaining, and repairing a facility to provide commercial
mobile radio services[.]"
Husband, who requested that all 35 acres and the lease be
awarded to him, testified at trial that the cell phone tower
lease had a low value -- lower than Wife's proposed value
of $19, 837.80 -- because, although the lease was a source of
revenue, the lease could be cancelled by the lessee at any
time (with prior written notice),  and he testified:
"They're testing low-level satellites to replace
cell phone towers, so the plans are underway to obsolete them
and technology moves on like it always does."
Nevertheless, Husband requested that the lease be awarded to
him, and he agreed that the lease paid $3, 967.50 per year
and that five years remained on the lease. 
As to the value of the real property, Wife asserted the 35
acres (i.e., the marital home and acreage) was worth $250,
000. Regarding the marital home, Wife testified it is a
"very nice, " custom-built, four-bedroom, two-bath
home. She also testified there is a barn on the property.
Husband, although requesting an award of the property,
asserted it had a lower value, plus mortgage debt. He further
testified the presence of the cell phone tower made the real
property less attractive to potential buyers. He asserted the
real property had a market value of $219, 000, and an equity
value of $129, 936.
Ultimately, the trial court awarded Husband "[a]ll
right, title and interest in the proceeds from the cellular
phone tower lease" from August 14, 2009 -- the date Wife
filed her petition for divorce -- until April 25, 2013,
totaling $14, 878. "[A]s of April 25, 2013, "
however, all right, title and interest in the proceeds from
the cell phone tower lease were awarded to Wife.
Moreover, Husband was awarded the 35 acres, including the
marital residence, but subject to Wife being awarded
"[a] 2-acre plat of land from the [35-acre tract] on
which the marital residence is located, to include the area
covered by the cellular phone tower lease." Husband was
also granted the marital residence and acreage "subject
to the outstanding mortgage indebtedness thereon[.]"
Husband was ordered to pay marital debt totaling $94, 912.94.
The trial court explained from the bench that it did not
adopt Wife's valuation of the property at $250, 000, nor
did it adopt Husband's $219, 000 valuation; instead, it
adopted a value between these two values -- i.e., about $15,
000 to $20, 000 less than Wife's valuation.
Husband was also awarded the IRA account with an agreed-upon
value of $73, 175, as well as the parties' 25% ownership
interest in the business for which Husband was working, an
interest which he valued at $25, 000, but which Wife valued
at $36, 000. The trial court explained from the bench that it
was accepting the value of $36, 000.
In turn, Wife was awarded a "money judgment against
Husband in the amount of $150, 000 representing alimony in
lieu of property division[.]" Husband was also ordered
to pay Wife $13, 941
for Wife's share of the parties' 2008 joint income
tax refund in the amount of $8, 941 and for reimbursement of
the value of Wife's vehicle Husband traded in for a
vehicle owned by [the business for which he works] in the
amount of $5, 000, which the Court finds Husband improperly
converted to his own use.
The trial court also divided the personal property items of
the parties, such as boats, tools and furniture, the total
value of which is not insubstantial. According to Wife, the
total value of the parties' marital personal property of
this kind equals $136, 707. As to items ultimately awarded to
Husband, Wife presented evidence that, for example, a certain
"M8200 Kubota" tractor had a value of $26, 172
(though Husband valued it at $11, 708), and that two Harley
Davidson motorcycles had values of $18, 725 and $8, 955
(though Husband valued them at $15, 605 and $3, 940). Husband
was also awarded personal property items such as two
trailers, two boats (one a mere "aluminum boat"
which she and Husband valued at $300, and the other a
"Pro Craft" boat which she and Husband valued at
$8, 790), a dirt bike, and miscellaneous farm and hand tools
(which Wife valued at $13, 380) such as an air compressor,
saws and a chain saw, ladders, a "Craftsman roll around
tool box w/tools, " and various rifles.
Wife arrived at her valuations using, among other things,
various online valuation guides such as "NADA Guides,
" according to which the total value of the marital
personal property which was both in Husband's possession
and awarded to Husband by the trial court equals
approximately $125, 000. However, the trial court stated at
the end of trial that "a lot of [Wife's] valuations
were a little bit high." On the other hand, the trial
court also stated "that a lot of [Husband's] values
on the property that he wants to keep are extremely
low." Consequently, the trial court "approximated
about a $30, 000 discount [to Wife's total valuation] of
the personal property." The value of the personal
property items of this kind (i.e., vehicles, tools, guns,
etc.) awarded to Wife was, in comparison to the items awarded
to Husband, minimal.  The parties were also awarded equal
portions (50% each) of a certain mineral interest with an
agreed-upon value of less than $12, 000. 
The trial court explained from the bench that the total
"share of the marital estate [awarded to Husband] is
$375, 000." The court explained that this amount
constitutes his net award after payment of the marital debt
he was ordered to pay. After further deducting the amount of
$150, 000, which Husband was ordered to pay to Wife as
property division alimony, Husband was awarded the equivalent
of $225, 000. Indeed, Husband admits on appeal that
"[t]he marital assets awarded to [me] had a net value of
On the other hand, the only significant items awarded to Wife
were the cell phone tower lease, valued by Wife at $19,
837.80; the two acres, which Wife valued at $4, 000; and the
50% share of the mineral interest, valued at $5, 978. Using
the highest estimates possible based on the evidence
presented at trial, Wife was awarded the equivalent of less
than $40, 000 total in marital property. Even when adopting
this sum, and after adding the $150, 000 and $13, 941
payments to Wife from Husband, Wife was awarded the
equivalent of approximately $204, 000 of the marital
estate's net value.
Husband was further ordered to pay support alimony to Wife in
the total amount of $45, 000, to be paid to Wife over the
course of sixty months at the rate of $750 per month.
However, the alimony award is not contested on appeal.
In November 2013, within thirty days of the divorce decree,
Husband filed an appeal. Also in November 2013, Wife filed a
motion for attorney fees and costs and Husband filed a motion
to reconsider/modify the decree.  Husband's motion was
filed within thirty days of, but more than ten days after,
the date of filing of the divorce decree.
In Wife's motion, she sought an award of attorney fees
and costs under 43 O.S. 2011 § 110 (D), which provides
that "[u]pon granting a decree of dissolution of
marriage... the court may require either party to pay such
reasonable expenses of the other as may be just and proper
under the circumstances." Wife asserted, among other
[t]hroughout the litigation, [Husband] engaged in a pattern
of dilatory conduct that included multiple instances of
refusals to cooperate in discovery, appraisals and
evaluations in an attempt to bully and intimidate [Wife], to
wear her down emotionally and financially, and to deprive
[her] of her rightful share of the marital estate.
She further asserted that Husband's "bad
conduct" in these proceedings required Wife to file
"protective orders, motions to compel, contempt
citations and motions for sanctions." Wife also stated
that the trial court "found that [Husband's] income
was more than three times that of [Wife]." For these
reasons, Wife asserted it was just and proper that Husband
pay all of her attorney fees ($25, 535), costs ($365.10) and
expert fees ($7, 873.45), for a total of $33, 733.55.
On July 24, 2015, a hearing was held on Wife's motion for
attorney fees, and, in an order filed in August 2015, the
trial court granted Wife's motion in part, awarding Wife
attorney fees and costs in the amount of $7, 500.
In the motion to reconsider/modify, Husband requested that
the trial court reconsider its valuation of Husband's 25%
interest in the business for which he works. Husband asserted
that the trial court "relied upon, in part, " a
business valuation which utilized the "capitalized
excess earnings method" of determining value. Husband
asserted this method "has been specifically rejected by
the Oklahoma Supreme Court" for business valuations in
divorce actions. Husband also sought reconsideration of the
trial court's decision to award Wife a 2-acre tract of
the 35-acre tract of marital property. Although a hearing was
held on Husband's motion in April 2014, at which time the
trial court entered a Minute Order partially resolving
Husband's motion, the trial court did not finally
determine Husband's motion until its order denying
Husband's motion, filed in June of 2016. Prior to his
motion finally being determined, Husband forwarded additional
bases for modification, including evidence indicating that
the value of the cell phone tower lease rose sharply less
than two years after the entry of the divorce decree.
From the order awarding attorney fees and costs to Wife, from
the order denying Husband's motion to reconsider/modify,
and from the underlying divorce decree, Husband appeals.
As stated by the Oklahoma Supreme Court:
A divorce suit is one of equitable cognizance in which the
trial court has discretionary power to divide the marital
estate. The trial court must follow the provisions of 43 O.S.
[Supp. 2012] § 121 which require a fair and equitable
division of property acquired during the marriage by the
joint industry of the husband and wife. The trial court has
wide latitude in determining what part of jointly-acquired
property shall be awarded to each party. However, a marital
estate need not necessarily be equally divided to be an
equitable division because the words just and reasonable in
§ 121 are not synonymous with equal. An appellate court
will not disturb the trial court's property division
absent a finding of abuse of discretion or a finding that the
decision is clearly contrary to the weight of the evidence.
Colclasure v. Colclasure, 2012 OK 97, ¶ 16, 295
P.3d 1123 (footnotes omitted). Even more recently, the
Supreme Court has stated: "A trial court has wide
latitude in determining the division of jointly-acquired
property in a divorce proceeding, and its distribution of a
marital estate will not be disturbed absent an abuse of
discretion or a finding that the decision is clearly contrary
to the weight of evidence." ...