Gram and Gram

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Procedure
  • Date Filed: 06-03-2015
  • Case #: A150724
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Garret, P.J. for the Court; Ortega, J; & DeVore, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

On a motion to clarify a dissolution judgment, a trial court is permitted to interpret ambiguous portions of a dissolution judgment. A provision in a judgment is ambiguous if it is capable of more than one reasonable interpretation. A trial court may not modify the property provisions of the judgment under the guise of interpreting them. A trial court will have modified the judgment if additional terms or obligations are added.

Husband appealed Wife’s motion to clarify and the subsequent supplemental modification made by the court during the hearing. Wife argued that the initial judgment was ambiguous and sought clarification, and the trial court sided with wife stating that the original court did not anticipate that the home would be taken off the market and husband would continue to reside in the home. The trial court then modified the judgment to include a time frame of one year for husband to be able to sell the house, and collect reimbursement for the mortgage from wife. The Court stated that a supplemental judgment could not modify property provisions of the judgment in the guise of interpreting them, and The Court stated that this is exactly what the trial could did. The Court reasoned that the term “as soon as possible” was not ambiguous and therefore the modifications made by the trial court were impermissible. Reversed.

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