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Arneault v. Arneault

Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia
639 S.E.2d 720 (W. Va. 2006)


Facts

Edson Arneault (plaintiff) filed a petition for divorce from Margaret Beth Arneault (defendant) after 33 years of marriage and the birth of two children. During the marriage, Margaret Beth had been a homemaker and had raised the children. As the children grew older, Margaret Beth returned to work on a part-time basis as a teacher and then later started her own full-time business as a counselor, providing college-placement and career-counseling services to high-school students in Michigan. Edson was the chairman, president, and chief executive officer of MTR Gaming Group, Inc. (MTR), which owned and controlled Mountaineer Park, Inc., and operated video-lottery terminals in West Virginia. Prior to the Arneaults’ separation, Edson returned from West Virginia to Michigan most weekends. At trial, the evidence showed that Edson had been primarily responsible for the growth and financial success of MTR. In return for his good work, Edson received a lucrative salary as well as over 3,000,000 shares of MTR stock. The trial court found that, because Edson had contributed significantly to the marital estate, an equal distribution of the marital estate would not be appropriate. Instead, the trial court awarded Edson 65 percent and Margaret Beth 35 percent of the marital estate. Margaret Beth appealed. The appellate court affirmed. The Supreme Court of West Virginia granted certiorari to review.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Davis, C.J.)

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Concurrence (Benjamin, J.)

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Dissent (Starcher, J.)

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