Barber v. Bradley

505 S.W.3d 749 (2016)

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Barber v. Bradley

Kentucky Supreme Court
505 S.W.3d 749 (2016)

  • Written by Tammy Boggs, JD

Facts

In August 2004, Albert Barber (plaintiff) and Elizabeth Bradley (defendant) married. The couple decided to build a custom home based on their incomes. Barber’s mother and father wanted to give Barber money so that he could build a larger home but maintain the same mortgage payments as budgeted. Barber received checks of $100,000 and $146,000 from his father and mother, respectively, with contemporaneous notes indicating that the funds were gifts or inheritance advancements. Barber deposited the funds in a personal bank account to which Bradley did not have access. Thereafter, in planning their home construction, Bradley told Barber that she wanted to make sure that any constructed home would be “half hers” or else she did not want to use money from Barber’s parents. The couple thoroughly discussed the issue, and according to Bradley, Barber repeatedly assured her that her name would be listed on the deed and the house would be “half hers.” In 2008, the house construction was completed at a total cost of $547,000, and the house was deeded jointly with the right of survivorship. Barber and Bradley were both listed on the mortgage. Later, Barber filed for divorce, and he argued that the $246,000 was a gift from his parents to him alone. Barber claimed that the nonmarital funds should be returned to him and that he had never assured Bradley regarding co-ownership. Bradley testified to her version of the facts, pointing to the form of deed, and argued that the increased home equity should be divided equally. The trial court agreed with Bradley, crediting her testimony though noting the disputed facts. The court of appeal affirmed, concluding that Barber had “gifted the [money] to Bradley or otherwise merged it with the marital estate.” Barber appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Hughes, J.)

Concurrence/Dissent (Noble, J.)

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