Filed 5 July 2011 This case not for publication
Appeal by plaintiff from judgment entered 3 December 2009 by Judge Mary F. Covington in Iredell County District Court. Heard in the Court of Appeals 15 November 2010.
Pope McMillan Kutteth Privette Edwards Schieck, PA, by Martha N. Peed and Charles A. Schieck, for the Plaintiff. Homesley, Gaines, Dudley, LLP, by Dustin S. McCrary and Edmund Gaines, for the Defendant.
Iredell County No. 04 CVD 3190.
Plaintiff Hilda Williams appeals from an equitable distribution order entered 3 December 2009 by the trial court on remand from a prior decision of this Court. On appeal, Plaintiff argues that, in its order on remand, the trial court erroneously failed to make findings of fact concerning the value of a specific tract of separate property for use in making its distribution decision, found that an equal distribution of the parties' marital and divisible property would be equitable, determined that an in-kind distribution of the parties' marital and divisible property would be inequitable, ordered Defendant Thomas Clyde Williams to pay a distributive award without determining whether Defendant possessed the means necessary to make the required payment, and finding that Plaintiff had previously received the benefit of certain divisible property and was not entitled to have that property distributed to her. After careful consideration of Plaintiff's challenges to the trial court's remand order in light of the record and the applicable law, we conclude that the trial court adequately complied with our remand instructions and that its order should be affirmed.
I. Factual Background
Plaintiff and Defendant married on 24 December 1949, separated on 25 November 2004, and divorced on 16 May 2006. During the course of their marriage, the parties were involved in the operation of a dairy farm in which they both owned an interest. As a result of their joint efforts, the parties accumulated a substantial marital estate, including various real properties such as the Home Place, on which the dairy farm operations were conducted.
On 16 December 2004, Plaintiff filed a complaint requesting postseparation support, alimony, divorce from bed and board, attorney's fees, and equitable distribution of the parties' marital and divisible property. In his answer, Defendant sought possession of the parties' marital residence and requested that an interim distribution be made from the parties' marital property. A hearing for the purpose of addressing equitable distribution issues was held before the trial court during the 10 July 2007 session of Iredell County District Court. On 13 November 2007, the trial court entered an equitable distribution order containing extensive findings of fact and conclusions of law, delineating the extent to which various assets were either marital or non-marital property, and determining, "[a]fter considering all of the factors set forth in [N.C. Gen. Stat. § 50-20(c] and the various contentions of the parties," "that an equal division of the parties' marital property [was] equitable." Plaintiff noted an appeal to this Court from the 2007 equitable distribution order.
On 21 April 2009, this Court issued an unpublished opinion in Williams v. Williams, No. COA08-692, 2009 N.C. App. LEXIS 407 (2009), in which we affirmed the 2007 equitable distribution order in part and remanded this case to the Iredell County District Court for the purpose of addressing certain deficiencies in the 2007 equitable distribution order. More particularly, we remanded this case to the trial court with instructions to make additional findings addressing the extent to which a $122,395.00 distribution received by Defendant "constituted `divisible property' and, if so, how that property should be divided among the parties[;]" to make "sufficient findings of fact regarding the factors enumerated under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 50-20(c) about which evidence was presented at the equitable distribution hearing[;]" and to make "findings of fact relating to the presumption in favor of an in-kind distribution and whether this presumption had been rebutted so as to permit the making of a distributive award." Williams at **11, 15, 20. However, we explicitly affirmed the remainder of the 2007 equitable distribution order and stated that those portions of the 2007 equitable distribution order which had been upheld on appeal should "remain undisturbed on remand." Williams, at *32.
The necessary proceedings on remand were held at the 9 November 2009 session of Iredell County District Court. On 3 December 2009, the trial court entered an order on remand in which it made additional findings of fact and conclusions of law and distributed the parties' marital and divisible property in a manner that was identical to the distribution set out in the 2007 equitable distribution order. Thereafter, Plaintiff noted an appeal from the remand order to this Court.
II. Legal Analysis A. Standard of Review
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 50-20, which governs the distribution of marital and divisible property by the court, states that, "[u]pon application of a party, the court shall determine what is the marital property and divisible property and shall provide for an equitable distribution of the marital property and divisible property between the parties[.]" N.C. Gen. Stat. § 50-20 affords trial courts considerable discretion concerning the distribution of marital and divisible property, with the exercise of such "`discretion [to remain un]disturbed in the absence of clear abuse.'" Mrozek v. Mrozek, 129 N.C. App. 43, 48, 496 S.E.2d 836, 840 (1998) (quoting Lawing v. Lawing, 81 N.C. App. 159, 162, 344 S.E.2d 100, 104 (1986)). As a result, our review of an equitable distribution order is limited to determining whether there was a clear abuse of discretion, with the trial court's order to be upheld unless it is "so arbitrary that [it] could not have been the result of a reasoned decision." Id. (quoting Lawing, 81 N.C. App. at 162, 344 S.E.2d 104). "`The trial court's findings of fact, on which its exercise of discretion rests, are conclusive if supported by any competent evidence. The mere existence of conflicting evidence or discrepancies in evidence will not justify reversal." Id. (quoting Lawing, 81 N.C. App. at 162, 344 S.E.2d at 104). "[F]ormal errors in an equitable distribution judgment do not require reversal, particularly where the record reflects a conscientious effort by the trial judge to deal with complicated and extensive evidence." Lawing, 81 N.C. App. at 163, 344 S.E.2d at 104 (1986) (citing Andrews v. Andrews, 79 N.C. App. 228, 232, 338 S.E.2d 809, 812, disc. review denied, 316 N.C. 730, 345 S.E.2d 385 (1986), disapproved on other grounds in Armstrong v. Armstrong, 322 N.C. 396, 403, 368 S.E.2d 595, 599 (1988)). As a result, we will not "remand a judgment for obviously insignificant errors" in cases involving the litigation of "complex  equitable distribution [issues.]" Mishler v. Mishler, 90 N.C. App. 72, 74, 367 S.E.2d 385, 387, disc. review denied, 323 N.C. 174, 373 S.E.2d 111 (1988). We will now examine Plaintiff's challenges to the trial court's remand order utilizing the required standard of review.
B. Substantive Legal Issues 1. Lack of Findings Concerning the "Mayberry Tract"
In her first challenge to the remand order, Plaintiff contends that the trial court erred by failing to make findings of fact concerning the value of a tract of Defendant's separate property known as the "Mayberry Tract." According to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 50-20(c), "[t]here shall be an equal division by using net value of marital property and net value of divisible property unless the court determines that an equal division is not equitable." "If the court determines that an equal division is not equitable, [it] shall divide the [property] equitably[, and] consider . . . [t]he income, property, and liabilities of each party at the time the division of property is to become effective" in doing so. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 50-20(c). According to Plaintiff, N.C. Gen. Stat. § 50-20(c), when considered in conjunction with N.C. Gen. Stat. § 50-20(j) (requiring the trial court to make "written findings of fact that support the determination that the marital property and divisible property has been equitably divided"), requires the trial court to make a specific finding concerning the value of the Mayberry Tract as part of its distributional analysis.
In seeking to persuade us of the validity of her position, Plaintiff places principal reliance on this Court's decision in Byrd v. Owens, 86 N.C. App. 418, 358 S.E.2d 102 (1987). More particularly, having found the Mayberry Tract to be Defendant's separate property, Plaintiff argues that "the [trial] court was [then] required to determine the value of this property on the date the distribution was to become effective for the purpose of considering it pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 50-20(c)(1)" given our statement in Byrd that, "[i]f the debt is classified as separate, the court must value it and then, pursuant to [N.C. Gen. Stat. § ] 50-20(c)(1) consider it in making a distribution." Byrd, 86 N.C. App. at 424, 358 S.E.2d at 106. We do not believe that this isolated statement in Byrd, which was made prior to the enactment of the revisions to our equitable distribution statutes requiring the identification, valuation, and distribution of divisible property, requires acceptance of Plaintiff's argument.
In Byrd, the defendant argued that the trial court erroneously failed to consider a $250,000.00 debt incurred after the parties' separation and his "personal guarantees incurred in relation to his business ventures" in the course of its distributional analysis. Id. at 423, 358 S.E.2d at 106. In awarding a new trial, we noted that the trial court had "made no mention of the debt  or  personal guarantees in its findings of fact[,]"and explained that:
[t]he court should have classified and valued the [$250,000] debt  and proceeded to either distribute it as marital debt or consider it as separate debt in making the distribution. Because the court did not classify this debt, its conclusions of law determining the distribution of the marital property are not supported by the findings of fact.
Id. at 424, 358 S.E.2d at 106. We do not agree with Plaintiff that Byrd demonstrates that the trial court's failure to "specifically  value the [Mayberry Tract] constitutes reversible error." Unlike the situation before the Court in Byrd, the trial court in this case not only mentioned the Mayberry Tract in its equitable distribution order, but also discussed the property at length and specifically classified it as Defendant's separate property. As a result, the trial court did not wholly ignore a piece of separate property it was required to consider pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 50-20(c)(1). On the contrary, we believe that the trial court expended significant effort in considering and determining the nature and ownership of the Mayberry Tract.
In essence, as Defendant notes, Plaintiff's argument amounts to a request that we interpret N.C. Gen. Stat. § 50-20 to require trial courts to "make specific written findings of fact that specifically identify and value the parties['] separate property, in order to comply with the requirements of N.C. Gen. Stat. § 50-20(c) to properly `consider' the distribution factor." Aside from Byrd, which is distinguishable on its facts and addressed a debt that would now be treated as divisible rather than separate property, Plaintiff has cited no authority in support of her contention. On the other hand, in Conway v. Conway, 131 N.C. App. 609, 615, 508 S.E.2d 812, 817 (1998), disc. review denied, 350 N.C. 593, 537 S.E.2d 210 (1999), this Court expressly stated that:
there is no requirement that the trial court determine the numeric value of separate property when considering distributional factors. Smith v. Smith, 111 N.C. App. 460, 433 S.E.2d 196 (1993)[, rev'd on other grounds, 336 N.C. 575, 444 S.E.2d 420 (1994]. "There is no language within § 50-20(c) which would indicate that the trial court is required to place a monetary value on any distributional factor and we decline to impose such an unnecessary burden upon the trial court." Gum v. Gum, 107 N.C. App. 734, 739, 421 S.E.2d 788, 791 (1992).
In light of differences between the facts at issue in Byrd and the facts at issue here, the complete absence of any authority that clearly supports the position espoused by Plaintiff in this case, and the inconsistency between Plaintiff's position and our decision in Conway, we conclude that Plaintiff's first argument has no merit.
2. Equal Division
Secondly, Plaintiff contends that the trial court erred by finding that an equal division of the parties' assets would be equitable. More specifically, Plaintiff argues that the trial court's finding that "[n]either party had demonstrated, based on the evidence, that they ha[d] wasted, neglected, disposed or converted the marital or the divisible assets since their date of separation or even during the course of their marriage pursuant to [N.C. Gen. Stat. § ] 50-20(c)" lacks adequate evidentiary support. We disagree.
A trial court distributing marital and divisible property pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 50-20 must divide that property equally unless it determines, in the exercise of its discretion, that such an outcome would be inequitable. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 50-20(c). As the party seeking an unequal distribution, Plaintiff bore the burden of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, that an equal division of the relevant property would not be equitable in light of the distributional factors listed in N.C. Gen. Stat. § 50-20(c). White v. White, 312 N.C. 770, 776, 324 S.E.2d 829, 832 (1985) (stating that "a party desiring an unequal division of marital property bear[s] the burden of producing evidence concerning one or more of the twelve factors in [N.C. Gen. Stat. § 50-20(c)] and the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that an equal division would not be equitable").
According to Plaintiff, the "uncontroverted evidence" indicates that Defendant converted or disposed of marital or divisible assets by "funneling them to the parties' son, Charlie Williams" by way of his employment with T.C. Williams Farms, Inc. However, the sole evidentiary support for Plaintiff's contention, which is that Charlie Williams received a bonus in 2005 that effectively increased his salary from $30,000.00 to $140,000.00, is not uncontroverted. On the contrary, Charlie Williams testified at trial that, in 2005, Defendant became ill, resulting in a significant increase in Charlie Williams' responsibilities. The trial court clearly determined that this testimony was credible given its determination that "[n]either party had demonstrated, based on the evidence, that they have wasted, neglected, disposed or converted the marital or the divisible assets since their date of separation[.]" The fact that Plaintiff is able to point to portions of the record tending to show that Charlie Williams was unable to provide a detailed description of the manner in which more of the burden of operating the dairy farm had fallen on his shoulders and that Defendant continued to take care of certain business-related issues does nothing more than establish that the record contained evidence from which the trial court could have made a different determination. Lawing, 81 N.C. App. at 162-63, 344 S.E.2d at 104 (stating that "[t]he trial court's findings of fact, on which its exercise of discretion rests, are conclusive if supported by any competent evidence" and that "[t]he mere existence of conflicting evidence or discrepancies in evidence will not justify reversal") (citations omitted). The fact that Plaintiff disagrees with the trial court's decision to accept Charlie Williams' testimony with respect to the bonus issue does not in any way undermine the lawfulness of the trial court's determination that neither party "wasted, neglected, disposed of or converted the marital or divisible assets[.]" Thus, we conclude that this component of Plaintiff's challenge to the trial court's remand order lacks merit.
3. In-Kind Distribution
Thirdly, Plaintiff contends that the trial court erred by determining that an in-kind distribution would be inequitable. More specifically, Plaintiff argues that the trial court's findings of fact lack adequate evidentiary support and do not support its conclusion that an in-kind distribution would not be appropriate. Once again, we disagree.
[I]t shall be presumed in every action that an in-kind distribution of marital or divisible property is equitable. This presumption may be rebutted by the greater weight of the evidence, or by evidence that the property is a closely held business entity or is otherwise not susceptible of division in-kind. In any action in which the presumption is rebutted, the court in lieu of in-kind distribution shall provide for a distributive award in order to achieve equity between the parties. The court may provide for a distributive award to facilitate, effectuate or supplement a distribution of marital or divisible property. The court may provide that any distributive award payable over a period of time be secured by a lien on specific property.
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 50-20(e). In its remand order, the trial court found as a fact that:
9. The Defendant has presented evidence which overcomes the rebutta[ble] presumption for an in-kind distribution.
10. It would not be feasible to divide the dairy farm operation between the Plaintiff and Defendant. Dividing up that portion of the marital property would virtually end the dairy operation which has been a key part of their accumulation of marital assets. The Plaintiff has not presented any competent evidence that she could keep up with the rigorous daily operations of said farm. One of the sons of the parties has been very involved in the running of the Dairy Farm. Charlie Williams, adult son of Plaintiff and Defendant, has been a key player in assisting both of his parents in the daily operations of the farm. He has gained a 50% interest in the business as a result of his involvement even though Plaintiff refuses to acknowledge that interest. And the son continued to live there with the Defendant after Plaintiff left and he assisted his father with the Farm.
11. It would not be feasible to continue the operation on the "Home Place" tract should it be divided between the parties for an in-kind distribution in accordance with the testimony of the Defendant and of Kenneth Vaughn, the Iredell Farm Extension Agent. To divide the "Home Place" tract would diminish the overall value of the "Home Place" and render the current dairy operation untenable. According to Mr. Vaughn, the farm's waste management plan would mean that only a small and unprofitable dairy farm could be operated on that tract.
12. The overall value of the "Home Place" tract is valued so much more than the value of any other marital asset making it nearly impossible  to render an in-kind distribution by dividing up this particular marital property. It would be inequitable to Order the sale of this tract due to the long standing operation of the dairy farm on the property.
13. The Defendant has over the years been the primary operator and manager of the dairy farm. The Defendant and the parties' son, who also owns 50% of the Dairy Farm, worked closely for many years in the operation of the dairy farm.
14. The Plaintiff moved out of the Home Place and left the dairy farm operation at the time of separation.
15. The Court finds that the "Home Place" should be distributed to the Defendant in order to better provide for the continued operation of the dairy farm on the property which has been in operation since the 1950's.
16. The presumption in favor of an in-kind distribution of martial property has been rebutted by the greater weight of the evidence. The Court in turn, must order a distributive award in order to maintain equity.
17. The Court finds that the Defendant has the ability to pay the distributive award.
Plaintiff's contentions to the contrary notwithstanding, we conclude that the record adequately supports these findings of fact. In seeking to persuade us to reach a different result, Plaintiff points to the trial court's finding that both parties participated equally in the operation of the dairy farm, the trial court's failure to refer to evidence tending to show Defendant's diminished involvement in the operations of the dairy farm in more recent years, and the alleged irrelevance of certain of the trial court's findings. At bottom, however, Plaintiff's arguments represent nothing more than a contention that the trial court should have taken a different view of the evidence rather than a genuine challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence to support the findings that the trial court actually made. As a result, the only remaining issue that we must address in order to evaluate the lawfulness of the trial court's conclusion that Defendant had rebutted the presumption in favor of an in-kind distribution is whether the trial court's findings support its conclusion.
The facts found by the trial court in this case are analogous to those at issue in Pellom v. Pellom, 194 N.C. App. 57, 669 S.E.2d 323 (2008), disc. review denied, 363 N.C. 375, 678 S.E.2d 667 (2009). In Pellom, the parties, along with three other persons, were partners in a medical practice, with the parties owning a 25% interest in the practice. Pellom, 194 N.C. App. at 67, 669 S.E.2d at 328-29. The evidence presented at trial tended to show that the defendant "would have no way of dealing with the issues that would arise [in the conduct of the practice,]" that she was "estranged from the other owners[,]" and that "[p]laintiff [was] in a much stronger position to benefit from the  investment [than defendant]." Id. On appeal, we upheld the trial court's determination that the presumption in favor of an in-kind distribution had been rebutted and found that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by allocating the medical practice stock to the plaintiff and ordering him to pay a distributive award to the defendant. Id. The situation at issue in Pellom is virtually indistinguishable from that at issue here, a fact which establishes that the trial court did not commit any error of law in finding that the presumption in favor of an in-kind distribution had been successfully rebutted.
Although Plaintiff concedes that the trial court's "findings of fact may support the conclusion that dividing the land is not economically desirable," she cites Edwards v. Edwards, 152 N.C. App. 185, 566 S.E.2d 847, cert. denied, 356 N.C. 611, 574 S.E.2d 679 (2002), for the proposition that economic undesirability "does not necessitate a finding that  a division is not equitable." We find Plaintiff's reliance on Edwards unpersuasive for two reasons.
First, the factual situation at issue in Edwards is materially different from the one that we are required to address in this case. In Edwards, the trial court found that:
The parties' primary marital asset is their lodge and land for hunting. Their hunting business was a major focus of both spouses, and the lodge also served as their primary residence. Taken together, the hunting land and lodge has the potential to be a money-making business. However, neither party has the financial ability to "buy-out" the other party's share by paying a sizeable distributive award. Therefore, while economically desirable to keep the land and hunting lodge together, such a division is not possible, and the real estate must be substantially split in order to achieve an equitable distribution.
Edwards, 152 N.C. App. at 187, 566 S.E.2d at 849. In this case, unlike Edwards, the trial court never found that the parties lacked the financial ability to pay a compensatory distributive award. This critical distinction renders Edwards of little relevance to a proper resolution of this case.
Secondly, wholly aside from the obvious differences between the order at issue in Edwards and the order at issue here, Edwards in no way supports, much less requires, a determination that the trial court's conclusion to the effect that an in-kind distribution would be inequitable was "so arbitrary that it could not have been the result of a reasoned decision." White, 312 N.C. at 777, 324 S.E.2d at 833. Instead, Edwards simply stands for the proposition that the trial court possesses the authority, in the exercise of its discretion, to divide a tract of land subject to the trial court's equitable distribution jurisdiction even when such an outcome would be economically unadvisable. The trial court's remand order had exactly the opposite effect. As a result, we conclude that this aspect of Plaintiff's challenge to the trial court's remand order is completely without merit.
4. Order to Pay Distributive Award
Fourthly, Plaintiff contends that the trial court erred by ordering Defendant to pay a distributive award to Plaintiff in the amount of $740,417.00 without determining that Defendant possessed sufficient liquid assets from which to pay the award or identifying the assets from which the award could be paid. Once again, we disagree.
In our earlier decision in this case, we instructed the trial court on remand to "make findings regarding the spouse's liquid and non-liquid assets and adjust the award for any financial ramifications." Given these remand instructions, the trial court found as a fact on remand that:
18. Prior to the Court's hearing evidence in this trial, the Plaintiff received an interim distribution award of $196,000.00.
19. Also, the Plaintiff received a distribution from TC Williams, Inc., in the amount of $122,385.00.
20. The Defendant has access to farm accounts and could reasonably be expected to liquidate or borrow against any real property within a year's time sufficient to pay the balance of the distributive award.
According to Plaintiff, these findings do not constitute adequate compliance with our remand instructions or with the applicable law because the trial court failed to identify the value of the farm accounts and to discuss the feasibility and financial impact of any decision by Defendant to liquidate his real property or to use his real property to secure a loan.
In Pellom, this Court stated that, "if a party's ability to pay an award with liquid assets can be ascertained from the record, then the distributive award must be affirmed." Pellom, 194 N.C. App. at 69, 669 S.E.2d at 329-30. According to the record developed in this case, Plaintiff has already received payments from Defendant totaling $318,385.00, which amounts to a substantial portion of the distributive award deemed appropriate by the trial court. As we understand the record, Defendant has immediate access, based on the balances contained in various accounts, to pay at least another $306,145.46 to Plaintiff. Finally, Defendant owns other assets, such as separately held tracts of real property, which he could liquidate or use as collateral to secure a loan in order to obtain the funds necessary to pay the balance of the distributive award. As a result, we believe that the evidence before the trial court in this case, unlike the record evidence before the trial court in the cases in which we found a trial court's findings concerning a party's ability to pay a distributive award to be deficient, provides ample basis for the trial court's determination that Defendant would be able to pay the proposed distributive award. Robertson v. Robertson, 167 N.C. App. 567, 571, 575, 605 S.E.2d 667, 669-70, 672 (2004) (remanding for additional findings of fact when the only liquid assets available to defendant to pay a distributive award of $52,100.07 consisted of two bank accounts containing only $5,929.38); Urciolo v. Urciolo, 166 N.C. App. 504, 507, 601 S.E.2d 905, 908 (2004) (remanding for additional findings of fact when the trial judge listed only "one source of liquid assets from which defendant could pay the distributive award" and this source contained assets equal to one fifth of the amount due pursuant to the distributive award); Shaw v. Shaw, 117 N.C. App. 552, 555, 451 S.E.2d 648, 650 (1995) (remanding for additional findings of fact when the trial court ordered defendant to pay a distributive award of $8,360.72 and defendant presented evidence that, in order to make the required payment, he would have to withdraw funds from a thrift plan, resulting in the loss of employer contributions and unfavorable tax consequences). Moreover, in Urciolo, Robertson, and Shaw, the party ordered to pay the distributive award appealed the sufficiency of the trial court's findings of fact, arguing that he or she would be unable to pay the distributive award without suffering adverse financial consequences. Defendant has made no such contentions in this case. On the contrary, Defendant claims that he has the ability to make the required payment in a timely manner. As a result, given the fact that Plaintiff has already received a substantial portion of the required distributive award and the fact that the trial court identified additional assets which Defendant could use to pay the remainder of the required distributive award, we conclude that this aspect of Plaintiff's challenge to the trial court's remand order has no merit.
5. Previous Receipt of Benefit
Finally, Plaintiff contends that the trial court erred by finding that she had previously received the benefit of certain divisible property and was not, for that reason, entitled to a distribution of such property by virtue of the equitable distribution process. We disagree.
In its remand order, the trial court found as a fact that:
22. With respect to the divisible property that is the $122,385. distribution received by the Defendant in 2005, the Court finds that this amount constitutes post-separation farm-related income that should be distributed between the parties pursuant to [N.C. Gen. Stat. § ] 50-20(a). Given that the Plaintiff had a marital interest in the dairy farm, she is entitled to a share of this distribution.
23. The Federal Income Tax return for T.C. Williams, Inc. and the K-1 form (plaintiff's exhibit 26) indicates that in 2005 the Defendant received a distribution from the corporation in the amount of $122,385.00. This distribution to the Defendant is noted on the K-1 as "item affecting shareholder basis[.]" This distribution was not shown as income on the Defendant's 2005 income tax return and was not income.
24. The $122,385.00 distribution [which] the Defendant received in 2005 is included in the amount of $382,168.00 which was held to be the value of the marital interest in the corporation. The distribution is listed on the corporation tax return and on Defendant's K-1 as an "item affecting shareholder basis[.]" Thus[,] in the calculation of the distributive award to the Plaintiff, the Plaintiff has already received the full benefits of the 50% of this distribution of $122,385.00.
25. The net result of this distribution is that the value of the Plaintiff's interest in the corporation would be decreased by $122,385.00 to $259,783.00 ($382,168.00-122,385.00=$259,783.00). By allocating $382,168.00 in value to the marital interest in the corporation, the Plaintiff received the benefit of $191,084.00 in the Court's calculation of the distributive award (50% of 382,168.00=191,084.00). If the Court had used $259,783.00 as the Defendant's interest in the Corporation based upon the 2005 reduction of his basis the Plaintiff would have received the benefit of only $129,891.50 in the Court's calculation of the distributive award (50% of $259,783.00=$129,891.50). The difference in the two amounts is $61,192.50 which is one-half of the $122,395.00 distribution and thus the plaintiff has in effect received the benefit of this money.
26. The Court finds that though this distribution to the Defendant constitutes divisible property, the Plaintiff is not entitled to receive a distribution of this amount as she has, in effect, received it through the Court's calculation of the distributive award in the Court's original order dated November 13, 2007.
A careful review of the record reveals the presence of ample evidence tending to support these findings. Moreover, these findings adequately explain the basis for the trial court's determination that Plaintiff had already received the benefit of the amount in question. In light of the well-established principles of law that the "`trial court's findings of fact . . . are conclusive if supported by any competent evidence'" and that "`[t]he mere existence of conflicting evidence or discrepancies in evidence will not justify reversal[,]'" we conclude that Plaintiff's final challenge to the remand order has no merit. Mrozek, 129 N.C. App. at 48, 496 S.E.2d at 840 (quoting Lawing, 81 N.C. App.at 162, 344 S.E.2d at 104).
Thus, for the reasons discussed above, we conclude that the trial court did not commit any error of law in the proceedings leading to the entry of the remand order or in the remand order itself. As a result, the remand order should be, and hereby is, affirmed.
Chief Judge MARTIN and Judge MCGEE concur.
Report per Rule 30(e).