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You can search the entire site. or go to the recent opinions, or the chronological or subject indices. Beal v. Beal (06/12/2009) sp-6380

Beal v. Beal (06/12/2009) sp-6380

     Notice:   This opinion is subject to correction  before
     publication  in  the  Pacific  Reporter.   Readers  are
     requested to bring errors to the attention of the Clerk
     of  the  Appellate  Courts, 303  K  Street,  Anchorage,
     Alaska 99501, phone (907) 264-0608, fax (907) 264-0878,
     e-mail corrections@appellate.courts.state.ak.us.


            THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF ALASKA

ANNETTE J. BEAL, )
) Supreme Court Nos. S- 12811/12831
Appellant/ )
Cross-Appellee, ) Superior Court No. 3AN-99-08146 CI
)
v. ) O P I N I O N
)
DAVID D. BEAL, ) No. 6380 June 12, 2009
)
Appellee/ )
Cross-Appellant. )
)

          Appeal  from the Superior Court of the  State
          of    Alaska,   Third   Judicial    District,
          Anchorage, William F. Morse, Judge.

          Appearances:   Justin Eschbacher  and  G.  R.
          Eschbacher,  Law Offices of G. R. Eschbacher,
          Anchorage,  for Appellant and Cross-Appellee.
          Jimmy   E.  White,  Hughes  Pfiffner   Gorski
          Seedorf & Odsen, LLC, Anchorage, for Appellee
          and Cross-Appellant.

          Before:    Fabe,  Chief  Justice,   Eastaugh,
          Carpeneti, and Winfree, Justices.  [Matthews,
          Justice, not participating.]

          FABE, Chief Justice.

I.   INTRODUCTION
          This  is  the  second time this divorce case  has  come
before  us.   David and Annette Beal each appeal several  of  the
superior courts rulings on remand following our decision in  Beal
v. Beal (Beal I).1  David appeals the superior courts educational
support  order  requiring him to pay for Annettes  attendance  at
Johnson  &  Wales  University.  Because  the  latest  educational
          support order conforms to the original educational support order,
which David did not appeal, we affirm it.  David also appeals the
superior  courts refusal to grant him an equitable adjustment  to
the post-judgment interest he owes.  Because David never appealed
the  post-judgment interest rate, we affirm the  superior  courts
refusal  to  make the requested adjustment.  Annette appeals  the
superior  courts revaluation of the appreciation of  Davids  pre-
marital artwork.   Because the superior court exceeded the  scope
of our remand in Beal I by revaluing the appreciation, we reverse
the  revaluation  and  instruct the superior  court  to  use  the
original  valuation.  Annette also appeals  the  superior  courts
recalculation of the interim support judgment against David so as
to give him $12,918.86 in credit for certain past payments to the
Child Support Enforcement Division made prior to the entry of the
judgment.  Because the issue whether David was entitled to credit
for  these payments should have been raised in Beal I, we reverse
this  $12,918.86 credit.  Finally, Annette appeals  the  superior
courts  treatment  of  a  $56,017 credit for  mortgage  principal
reduction caused by Davids post-separation mortgage payments  and
the  superior  courts decision to grant David another  $10,869.68
mortgage  credit.   Because the superior court acted  within  its
broad  discretion  in fashioning an equitable  property  division
when it awarded David these two credits, we affirm them.
II.  FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS
          Annette  and  David  Beal were married  in  1985  after
signing  a  prenuptial agreement.2  David was a  successful  ear,
nose,  and  throat doctor.  Annette and David have  two  children
together, both of whom are now adults.
          Annette filed for divorce in July 1999.  This case  was
originally assigned to Superior Court Judge Rene J. Gonzalez, who
issued  an  interim support order in October 1999 mandating  that
David  pay  monthly child and spousal support  to  Annette.   The
order  also  provided  that during the pendency  of  the  divorce
Annette  would reside in the family home and David would pay  the
mortgage on it.  In January 2000 Judge Gonzalez found that  David
had  not  complied with this order and issued a judgment  against
him  in favor of Annette for $64,722.99.  Annette satisfied  this
judgment by executing against various forms of Davids property.
          A  trial  was  held in August 2000, and Judge  Gonzalez
issued  a  property  division order  on  March  7,  2001,  making
findings  covering a wide range of issues.  The  parties  marital
property was divided 55/45 in favor of Annette.  The family  home
was awarded to Annette, who sold it in March 2001.
          In April 2001 Judge Gonzalez found that David had again
fallen  behind on his obligations under the October 1999  interim
support order and issued a $230,034.32 judgment against David for
unpaid interim support, including unpaid mortgage payments on the
family home.  Rather than paying the judgment, David deposited  a
$220,000  supersedeas bond with the clerk of court in  May  2001.
Further motions regarding Davids unpaid support obligations  were
filed later in 2001.
          In  their first appeal before us, both parties appealed
numerous  issues regarding the property division, the April  2001
interim  support judgment, and the superior courts  decisions  on
          later motions.  Their appeals were consolidated, and in a 2004
opinion (Beal I), we affirmed many aspects of the superior courts
decision,  remanded  some  to the superior  court,  and  reversed
others.   David petitioned for a rehearing regarding the specific
issue  of  the appreciation of his pre-marital artwork,  and  his
petition was denied.
          Because Judge Gonzalez had retired, this case was dealt
with  on remand from 2004 to 2007 by Superior Court Judge William
F.  Morse, who held hearings and issued, among other things,  two
sets  of  findings of fact, an order containing further findings,
and  final judgments.  Judge Morses findings covered a  range  of
issues, not limited to the topics remanded by this court in  Beal
I.
          Annette  now  appeals four of Judge Morses  rulings  on
remand, and David cross-appeals two.
III. STANDARDS OF REVIEW
          David  claims  that  the superior  courts  most  recent
educational  support order was erroneous.  As David  points  out,
educational  support for Annette is a substitute for  alimony  in
this case, and we review alimony awards for abuse of discretion,3
setting them aside only if they are unjust or unnecessary.4
          David also argues that the superior court erred in  not
granting  him  an  equitable adjustment to the  interest  on  the
interim  support  judgment against him.  We  apply  an  abuse  of
discretion  standard to the superior courts use of its  equitable
power.5
          Annette  claims  that the superior court  exceeded  its
authority  on remand in several respects.  Whether a lower  court
on  remand has correctly applied our mandate is a question of law
which we review de novo.6
          Annette  also argues that the superior court  erred  in
the  manner  in  which  it awarded credit to  David  for  certain
mortgage payments on the parties home during the pendency of  the
divorce.   We  review for abuse of discretion a  superior  courts
decision  whether to give a credit to a spouse for payments  made
to maintain marital property, such as the family home.7
IV.  DISCUSSION
     A.   The Law of the Case Doctrine
          Successive appeals should narrow the issues in a  case,
not  expand them.8  This is the second appeal in this  case.   In
Beal  I  we addressed in excess of twenty issues surrounding  the
Beals  divorce  and property division.9  Several  of  the  issues
currently before us were addressed, or could have been addressed,
in  Beal  I.   Our  perspective on those issues is  thus  heavily
influenced by the law of the case doctrine.
          The  law of the case doctrine, which is grounded in the
principle  of  stare decisis10 and akin to the  doctrine  of  res
judicata,11  generally  prohibits the reconsideration  of  issues
which  have  been adjudicated in a previous appeal  in  the  same
case.12   Previous  decisions on such issues   even  questionable
decisions13   become  the  law of the  case  and  should  not  be
reconsidered  on  remand or in a subsequent appeal  except  where
there  exist  exceptional circumstances presenting a clear  error
constituting a manifest injustice. 14
          The law of the case doctrine applies not only to issues
explicitly  addressed and decided in a prior appeal but  also  to
issues directly involved with or necessarily inhering  in a prior
appellate decision15 as well as issues that could have been  part
of  a prior appeal but were not.16  That is, when a party appeals
some  aspects of a trial court decision but not others, the trial
courts  rulings on the non-appealed issues may become the law  of
the case following the appellate decision.
          The  law  of the case doctrine is a doctrine of economy
and  of obedience to the judicial hierarchy.17  The strong policy
reasons   behind   it   include  (1)  avoidance   of   indefinite
litigations; (2) consistency of results in [the] same litigation;
(3)  essential  fairness between the parties;  and  (4)  judicial
efficiency.18   As  we  have noted, [j]udicial  economy  and  the
parties  interests in the finality of judgments  are  in  no  way
furthered if parties are allowed to engage in piecemeal appeals.19
          Thus,  in  evaluating this second  set  of  appeals  we
accept as the law of this case our decision in Beal I as well  as
the  many  rulings made by Judge Gonzalez prior to  Beal  I  that
could  have been appealed in Beal I but were not.  A trial  judge
who  succeeds  a prior trial judge in a case while  the  case  is
still in the trial court may generally reconsider a decision made
by  the  prior  judge  without violating  the  law  of  the  case
doctrine.20  But that freedom is not available where, as here, the
prior judges decision has been affirmed on appeal.
     B.   The  Superior Court Did Not Err in Requiring  David  To
          Pay   for  Annettes  Attendance  at  Johnson  &   Wales
          University  Because  the Original  Educational  Support
          Order Was Affirmed on Appeal in Beal I.
          The parties 1985 prenuptial agreement provided that  in
lieu of alimony David would pay for Annettes tuition, books,  and
all  other  expenses at a law school of her  choice  as  well  as
reasonable support during the period in which she is enrolled  at
a  law  school of her choice.  Annette decided not  to  pursue  a
legal  career  and instead, around the time of the divorce,  made
plans  to  attend a year of preparatory classes at the University
of  Alaska  in Anchorage (UAA) followed by a two-year  master  of
business  administration  (MBA)  program  at  the  University  of
Washington  (UW).   In  March  2001  Judge  Gonzalez  found  that
Annettes  decision to pursue an MBA program instead of  attending
law  school  is reasonable and substantially meets the conditions
of  the  parties agreement and that $131,000 from David would  be
sufficient  to  allow her to complete her  MBA.   David  did  not
appeal this educational support order, but Annette did.  In  Beal
I  we  addressed  and affirmed the trial courts order,  rejecting
Annettes  contentions that it did not provide sufficient  support
and  that  she  should not have been forced  to  prove  full-time
enrollment in order to enforce it.21 Once affirmed on  appeal  in
Beal  I,  the  superior courts educational support  order,  which
required David to fund Annettes pursuit of an MBA, became part of
the law of this case.
          After  Beal  I  was decided, David paid  $14,555.52  in
educational support to Annette while she was enrolled at UAA  for
one  semester.  David stopped making payments to Annette when she
          discontinued her enrollment and decided not to pursue the planned
program  at  UAA and UW.  In 2007 Annette moved to enforce  Judge
Gonzalezs  educational support order following  her  decision  to
enroll  in  a different MBA program at Johnson & Wales University
in  Rhode Island.22  After holding a hearing, Judge Morse granted
Annettes  motion  to  enforce  Judge Gonzalezs  2001  educational
support  order,  rejecting Davids request  that  his  educational
support obligation be terminated but reducing the amount  of  his
remaining  obligation to $83,642 due to the  lower  cost  of  the
Johnson & Wales program.23
          David now appeals, arguing that Judge Morses 2007 order
is  inconsistent with the parties prenuptial agreement  and  with
Judge  Gonzalezs 2001 order, which it purports to enforce.  David
further  argues that Judge Morses order is inappropriate  because
he  is  financially  unable  to  provide  the  required  support.
Because  Judge  Morses order is consistent with  Judge  Gonzalezs
educational  support order, which became the  law  of  this  case
following Beal I, we affirm it.
          David  asserts that Judge Gonzalezs educational support
order   selectively  modified  and  altered  the   parties   1985
prenuptial  agreement  and  extended Annettes  rights  under  the
agreement to include support for an MBA program rather  than  law
school.   But  Judge  Gonzalezs conclusion that  three  years  of
schooling  in pursuit of an MBA was an acceptable substitute  for
law  school under the prenuptial agreement  which David  did  not
appeal  was affirmed in Beal I.24  We thus decline to question it.
          David also argues that he is financially unable to  pay
for  Annettes  education.   But Judge Gonzalezs  order  requiring
David to pay $131,000 for Annettes education  which David did not
appeal   was affirmed in Beal I.25  And Judge Morse, in enforcing
that order, actually reduced the amount owed by David due to  the
lower  cost  of  the  Johnson & Wales  program.   Whether  Davids
financial situation has deteriorated since Judge Gonzalez entered
his 2001 order is irrelevant26  that order became the law of this
case following Beal I.27
          Davids   sole  remaining  contention  is   that   Judge
Gonzalezs   2001  educational  support  order  was   specifically
contingent on Annettes attendance at UAA and UW, to the exclusion
of  other potential MBA options like the Johnson & Wales program.
But  such a rigid interpretation of Judge Gonzalezs order is  not
appropriate.  In his order, Judge Gonzalez stated as follows:
          Under the parties agreement, David agreed  to
          provide  for post-divorce support for Annette
          to   continue  her  education.  .  .  .   The
          agreement  provides  that  David  shall   pay
          Annettes tuition, books, related expenses and
          to provide reasonable support while attending
          school.  Annette has decided not to pursue  a
          legal  career  but  instead  has  decided  to
          pursue   a   Masters   Degree   in   Business
          Administration   at   the    University    of
          Washington.  .  .  .  The  court  finds  that
          Annettes  decision to pursue an  MBA  program
          instead of attending law school is reasonable
          and substantially meets the conditions of the
          parties   agreement.   The   main   area   of
          disagreement  between  the  parties  is   the
          amount  of reasonable support that  David  is
          required   to   provide  while   Annette   is
          attending three years of university study.
          
          Though Judge Gonzalez based his $131,000 support figure
on  the tuition at UAA and for the MBA program at UW, he used  no
language that would suggest that this support would be contingent
on  Annettes  attendance at those specific schools.  Accordingly,
we  affirm the superior courts 2007 order requiring David to fund
Annettes pursuit of an MBA at Johnson & Wales.
     C.   The  Superior  Court Did Not Err in  Refusing  To  Make
          Equitable  Adjustments  to the  Interest  Rate  on  the
          Judgment  Against David Because the Interest  Rate  Was
          Affirmed in Beal I.
          In  April 2001 Judge Gonzalez entered judgment  against
David  in the amount of $230,034.32, a total that included unpaid
mortgage payments, property tax, insurance, spousal support,  and
child support under the October 1999 interim support order,  plus
accrued  interest.   Judge Gonzalez provided that  this  judgment
would bear interest at a rate of 8.5% until paid in full.  Rather
than  paying the judgment, David deposited a $220,000 supersedeas
bond with the clerk of court, who placed the funds in an interest-
bearing account at First National Bank of Alaska.  After  Beal  I
the  bond  funds were paid out, mostly to Annette,  in  July  and
December 2004.
          David  did  not challenge the interest rate applied  to
the  interim support judgment at any point prior to Beal  I,  nor
did he challenge it on appeal in Beal I.28  Davids first challenge
to  the  interest rate appears to have been on remand in February
2007  when  he  filed  a  Motion  and  Memorandum  for  Equitable
Adjustment  of  Interest Regarding Cash Supersedeas  Bond  Funds.
Judge Morse refused Davids request for an equitable adjustment to
the  interest he owed, addressing the merits of Davids  arguments
but  nonetheless  concluding that [e]quity does not  require  the
adjustment.
          David  appeals, renewing the arguments he  made  before
Judge Morse.  His first argument is that different interest rates
should have been applied to the interim spousal and child support
judgments  to  account for a statutory 6%  cap  on  interest  for
overdue  child  support payments.  His second  argument  is  that
because  the  actual amount of interest earned on the supersedeas
bond  funds  while they were under the control of  the  clerk  of
court  was much less than 8.5%, it would be inequitable  to  make
him  pay 8.5% interest.  But because David did not appeal it, the
interest  rate applicable to the interim support judgment  became
part of the law of this case following Beal I.29  Accordingly, we
decline  to address the merits of Davids arguments as to why  the
interest rate was inappropriate.30
          David contends that divorce proceedings are supposed to
be  equitable  proceedings in which the  court  has  considerable
discretion  to take equity into account. But while  the  superior
          court does have broad equitable powers when fashioning property
divisions  in divorce cases,31 the interest owing on the  interim
support  judgment against David is not an aspect of  the  parties
property  division.  And as Annette points out, if  the  superior
court were required to seriously consider all procedurally barred
arguments  raised under the rubric of equitable adjustment  to  a
partys  obligation under a judgment, achieving finality  in  this
kind  of case would be nearly impossible. Accordingly, we  affirm
the  superior  courts refusal to make an equitable adjustment  to
the interest owed by David.
     D.   The Superior Court Exceeded Its Authority on Remand  by
          Using  an  Appreciation  Value for  Davids  Pre-Marital
          Artwork that We Rejected in Beal I.
          Judge  Gonzalez  found that Davids pre-marital  artwork
had appreciated $63,788 during the marriage, but he did not treat
that sum as a marital asset when fashioning the property division
despite a term in the parties prenuptial agreement providing that
the  appreciation  during  the marriage of  separate  pre-marital
property would be considered a marital asset.  In Beal I  Annette
appealed   Judge  Gonzalezs  failure  to  include   the   $63,788
appreciation  in  the  property division in accordance  with  the
prenuptial   agreement.32   David  did  not  cross-appeal   Judge
Gonzalezs  valuation of the appreciation at $63,788  but  instead
contended  that  Judge  Gonzalez properly  did  not  include  the
appreciation in the property division because he actually  agreed
with  David that the appreciation was only $1,200,33 which  David
characterized  as de minimis in the context of this  case.34   We
specifically rejected this argument, stating:
          David  suggests the superior court failed  to
          include  the appreciation in its division  of
          the  marital  estate  because  it  implicitly
          agreed  with  his  earlier  claim  that   the
          appraisal was incorrect, and the true  amount
          of   appreciation  was  de   minimis.    This
          assertion is unsupported in the record.[35]
          
Based  on  the  prenuptial agreement, we  reversed  the  superior
courts  failure to treat the significant appreciation  of  Davids
pre-marital artwork as a marital asset.36  Following the  Beal  I
decision  David  filed  a  petition for rehearing,  reviving  his
argument  that  the appreciation of his pre-marital  artwork  was
only  $1,200  and  thus was properly excluded from  the  property
division  as  de  minimis.   We  denied  this  petition.    Thus,
following  Beal  I  Judge  Gonzalezs  $63,788  valuation  of  the
appreciation of Davids pre-marital artwork  subject  to  question
or  not   became final under the law of the case doctrine because
David  did  not directly appeal it in Beal I, and to  the  extent
that he did raise it on appeal, he lost.37
          Nonetheless,  on  remand  Judge  Morse  revisited   the
valuation  issue,  finding it difficult to understand  how  Judge
Gonzalez  derived  the  amount  of appreciation  as  $63,788  and
interpreting  our remand to permit [him] to correct  errors  that
Judge  Gonzalez  made in calculating the amount of  appreciation.
Judge  Morse then found, based on the same record that was before
          Judge Gonzalez and before us in Beal I, that the only credible
evidence of appreciation is for a net value of $1200.  He treated
that smaller appreciation value, rather than the $63,788 found by
Judge Gonzalez, as a marital asset, awarding 55% ($660) of it  to
Annette.  Annette appeals, arguing that Judge Morse exceeded  his
authority by revisiting the valuation issue on remand.  We agree.
          Judge  Morses decision to reject the $63,788  valuation
and  instead use the $1,200 figure advanced by David  in  Beal  I
based  on the same analysis of the evidence advanced by David  in
Beal  I  is inconsistent with Beal I and violates the law of  the
case  doctrine.  We therefore reverse it.  On remand the superior
court  should account for the appreciation of Davids  pre-marital
artwork  in the property division using Judge Gonzalezs  original
$63,788 valuation.
     E.   The  Superior  Court Exceeded Its Authority  on  Remand
          when  It  Recalculated the Interim Support Judgment  To
          Account  for $12,918.86 in Payments Made Prior  to  the
          Entry of the Judgment Because the Judgment Was Affirmed
          in Beal I.
          In  April  2001  Judge Gonzalez found  that  David  had
fallen  behind on his obligations under the October 1999  interim
support  order  and issued a judgment against  him  in  favor  of
Annette  for  $230,034.32.   Davids various  challenges  to  this
judgment  were part of Beal I.  In disposing of Davids  arguments
that the judgment was inflated, we stated:
          David   claims   that  the  superior   courts
          judgment   for  unpaid  interim  support   is
          overstated because the superior court did not
          credit  him  for  a number of  payments  made
          either  to  or  for Annette  and  because  it
          ordered  him  to  make  payments  that   were
          Annettes  responsibility. With one exception,
          we reject these claims.[38]
          Accordingly, following Beal I the amount of  the  April
2001  interim  support judgment should have  been  essentially  a
settled  issue  under  the law of the case doctrine  because  any
claims  David  may  have had that the basic judgment  amount  was
incorrect  either  were raised or could have been  raised  during
Beal I.39
          Nonetheless,  on remand the superior court  appears  to
have  recalculated  the April 2001 interim  support  judgment  to
factor  in support payments David made through the Child  Support
Enforcement Division (CSED) that should have been, but were  not,
factored into the original judgment.  Annette asserts that  David
was awarded an additional $12,918.86 in credit for such payments.
David does not deny that he was awarded this additional credit.
          The superior court interpreted Beal I not to preclude a
re-accounting  of Davids past CSED payments, stating  that  [t]he
supreme court did not address the total amount that David  should
be  credited  for  payments to CSED.40  In response  to  Annettes
objections that [t]he judgment is what it is and should  only  be
reduced pursuant to credits allowed by the Alaska Supreme  Court,
the superior court remarked:
          The  [superior courts] authority  to  resolve
          questions  of  credits  toward  the  [interim
          support  judgments  against  David]  is   not
          limited merely to the topics of the remand. .
          .   .   If  the  supreme  court  addressed  a
          particular claim on appeal, then its  holding
          will  govern.  But if the supreme  court  did
          not  address a claim for a credit, then  this
          Court will rule on the claim.
          
           But  any claims that the interim support judgment  did
not  factor  in payments David made to CSED before the  judgments
entry  either were41 or could have been dealt with in  Beal  I.42
Thus, absent a showing of exceptional circumstances presenting  a
clear  error  constituting a manifest injustice43  sufficient  to
overcome the law of this case, the superior court should not have
revisited  the calculation of the interim support judgment  other
than  as  specifically instructed in Beal  I.   While  David  may
believe  that  the  judgment  included  mistakes  that  were  not
discovered until after remand, any such mistakes could have  been
discovered  in  2001  and raised in Beal I.   Successive  appeals
should   narrow  the  issues  in  a  case,  not  expand   them.44
Accordingly, because the $12,918.86 credit that Annette complains
of  appears  to reflect payments by David that should have  been,
but  were  not, accounted for in the original April 2001  interim
support judgment, which was affirmed in Beal I, we reverse it.45
     F.   The  Superior  Court Did Not Abuse  Its  Discretion  by
          Deducting  from the Interim Support Judgment a  $56,017
          Credit  for Mortgage Principal Reduction due to  Davids
          Post-Separation Mortgage Payments.
          During the pendency of the divorce, Annette resided  in
the family home and David was ordered to pay the mortgage as part
of  his  interim support obligation.  In the March 2001  property
division,  Annette  was awarded the home,  which  Judge  Gonzalez
valued at $1,100,000, subtracting a mortgage principal balance of
$765,219  and  selling costs of $66,000, to arrive at  an  equity
value of $268,781.46
          In   Beal  I  David  argued  that  Judge  Gonzalez  had
undervalued the parties home in the property division because  he
had used an outdated number for the net equity.47  David contended
that because the value of the homes equity had been augmented  by
his  post-separation  mortgage payments, he  should  be  given  a
credit  against  the  interim  support  judgment  to  offset  the
undervaluation  of the homes equity and to balance  the  property
division.48  David initially requested this credit in response to
Annettes  post-trial  filing  of a judgment  for  unpaid  interim
support.49  His request was denied, and he appealed its denial in
Beal  I.50   This court rejected Annettes contention that  Davids
request was untimely and remanded the issue to the superior court
to  consider  whether  David  should  receive  credit  for  post-
separation  mortgage  payments that  were  part  of  his  interim
support payments.51
          On  remand, Judge Morse found that the home had  indeed
been undervalued in the March 2001 property division because  the
mortgage  debt had been only $709,202 at the time of  the  August
          2000 trial, not $765,219.52  Judge Morse also found that the
$56,017  reduction of the mortgage principal had been  caused  by
post-separation  mortgage payments for June 1999  through  August
2000  made  from  Davids separate property.  The parties  do  not
dispute  this finding.  Judge Morse elected to credit  David  for
this  $56,017  reduction of the mortgage principal,  having  been
made aware that Annette had sold the house for $200,000 more than
the value it was given in the property division.
          The  parties  do not dispute Judge Morses  decision  to
award David some sort of credit for the $56,017 reduction of  the
mortgage  principal,  but they dispute the  manner  in  which  he
awarded  David the credit.  Judge Morse awarded David the  credit
by  deducting  $56,017 from the remaining amount  owed  by  David
under  the  interim support judgment.  Annette argues that  Judge
Morse  thus  improperly treated the $56,017 as  interim  support.
David counters that because he was ordered to pay the mortgage as
part of his interim support obligation, the $56,017 reduction  of
the  mortgage principal can properly be characterized as  interim
support.
          Both  parties  fail  to recognize that  although  Judge
Morse  deducted the $56,017 from the amount David still  owed  on
the  interim support judgment, there is no indication that he did
so  because  he  considered the $56,017 to be a form  of  interim
support.   Various  credits  to David  in  conjunction  with  the
property division have been treated as potential offsets  to  the
amount  owed by David under the interim support judgment  despite
the fact that they have nothing to do with interim support.53  To
the  extent that there were errors in the property division  that
resulted in Annette receiving more than her share, it makes sense
to  account  for these errors after the fact by simply  deducting
the amount Annette was overpaid in the property division from the
amount that David still owes her on the interim support judgment,54
regardless   of   whether  such  deductions   can   be   properly
characterized as interim support payments.  Such accounting  does
not, as Annette contends, constitute impermissible mixing of  the
separate concepts of interim support and marital property.
          The  question thus becomes simply whether  Judge  Morse
erred  by awarding David dollar-for-dollar credit for the  entire
$56,017  post-separation  reduction of  the  mortgage  principal,
rather than dividing that amount 55/45 as Annette contends  would
be  proper.  We review for abuse of discretion a superior  courts
decision  whether to give a credit to a spouse for payments  made
to  maintain marital property, such as the family home, in making
a  property  division.55  The trial court  is  required  to  make
factual findings on whether a credit is appropriate56 but there is
no  fixed rule regarding whether a spouse should be given  credit
for post-separation mortgage payments.57  Whether to award credit
for post-separation mortgage payments is within the discretion of
the  superior  court  in carrying out its  task  of  creating  an
equitable  distribution of property.58  In this case  it  is  not
credit for the mortgage payments themselves that is at issue, but
credit  for  the  principal reduction effected by those  mortgage
payments.   When fashioning a property division, the trial  court
has the discretion, where equitable, to give a spouse dollar-for-
          dollar credit for the entire amount of his or her post-separation
mortgage payments.  It thus follows that the trial court also has
the  discretion  to give that spouse credit for the  increase  in
home  equity  created by those mortgage payments   an  invariably
smaller amount.
          Judge   Morse  discussed  the  reasoning   behind   his
treatment of the $56,017 credit, explaining that he
          did not divide [the $56,017] according to the
          percentage  division of  the  marital  estate
          because  it was paid by the time of the  sale
          by  Annette  after  she  sold  a  variety  of
          marital  and  Davids  separate  assets.   The
          division  of  that equity has  been  done  in
          other aspects of the reconciliation with  the
          treatment  of  the assets  used  to  pay  the
          principal.
          
          Judge   Morse  apparently  decided  that  the  property
division would be best balanced if David were awarded credit  for
the entire $56,017, given the treatment of the assets used to pay
the  principal.  The assets used to pay the principal were Davids
separate property, and thus the $56,017 in increased equity could
reasonably be treated as Davids separate property.59  Annette has
offered  no  argument as to why Judge Morses decision  to  credit
David with the entire $56,017 reduction in the mortgage principal
has  made  the  overall  property division inequitable.   Because
[t]he  trial  court  has  broad discretion  to  make  a  property
division  in  the manner it determines to be most  equitable,  we
will not disturb a property division unless it is clearly unjust.60
Accordingly, we affirm the $56,017 mortgage reduction credit.
     G.   The  Superior  Court Did Not Abuse  Its  Discretion  by
          Awarding  David a Further $10,869.68 Mortgage Reduction
          Credit Against the Interim Support Judgment.
          Though  the  trial  was  held in  August  2000,  Davids
obligation  to pay the mortgage on the family home while  Annette
resided  there  continued from September 2000  through  March  6,
2001, when the divorce was finalized.  David did not make any  of
the  required mortgage payments during those months, and  neither
did  Annette.  In April 2001 a judgment was issued against  David
in  favor  of Annette for unpaid interim support, which  included
these unpaid mortgage payments.  Once the house was sold and  the
mortgage was no longer in existence, David was liable directly to
Annette  for  the  unpaid  mortgage payments  because  they  were
incorporated into the interim support judgment against him.  Most
of  the interim support judgment was paid to Annette around  July
and   December  2004  when  the  supersedeas  bond   funds   were
distributed,  meaning that the mortgage payments  from  September
2000  to  March 2001, which were meant to be payments to maintain
marital  property,  were effectively paid  directly  to  Annette.
Davids  accountant estimated that a $24,154.84 portion  of  these
mortgage  payments would have gone to reduction of  the  mortgage
principal on the family home if they had been paid to the bank as
ordered, rather than to Annette.
          As  discussed  in  the  previous section,  our  Beal  I
          decision instructed the superior court to consider whether David
should receive credit for post-separation mortgage payments  that
were part of his interim support payments.61   Judge Morse decided
to give David both the $56,017 mortgage credit discussed above as
well as a $10,869.68 mortgage credit that represented 45% of  the
$24,154.84  principal reduction portion of the mortgage  payments
that  were incorporated into the interim support judgment.  Judge
Morse  reasoned that Annette would gain a windfall if allowed  to
retain  the  entirety of the mortgage payments incorporated  into
the interim support judgment because those payments were meant to
maintain marital property for the benefit of both parties  rather
than  to  go directly to Annette.  Thus, in order to balance  the
property division, Judge Morse decided to put the parties in  the
positions they would have been in had David fulfilled his monthly
payment  obligations in a timely manner by giving David a  credit
for  the  portion of the marital equity that the  payments  would
have  created  if  they had been made to the bank  as  originally
contemplated, rather than to Annette after the sale of the house.
Though Judge Morse was not required to give David this credit, it
was  within  his  broad  discretion  in  balancing  the  property
division  to  do  so.62  We will not disturb a property  division
unless it is clearly unjust.63  We note that David certainly  has
not  benefited from his failure to make the mortgage payments  on
time, as he has been charged an 8.5% post-judgment interest  rate
on  the  interim  support  judgment, which  included  the  unpaid
mortgage   payments.   Accordingly,  we  affirm  the   $10,869.68
mortgage reduction credit.
V.   CONCLUSION
          For  the  foregoing  reasons, we  AFFIRM  the  superior
courts  educational  support  award,  its  refusal  to  make   an
equitable adjustment to the interest owed by David, and its award
of  $56,017 and $10,869.68 mortgage credits to David.  We REVERSE
the superior courts revaluation of the appreciation of Davids pre-
marital artwork and its award of a $12,918.86 credit to David for
payments  to  CSED made before the interim support  judgment  was
entered.
_______________________________
     1    88 P.3d 104 (Alaska 2004).

     2     Some  portions of the facts and proceedings are  taken
from our first decision in this matter.  See generally id. at 108-
10.

     3    Hooper v. Hooper, 188 P.3d 681, 691 n.35 (Alaska 2008).

     4     Broadribb  v. Broadribb, 956 P.2d 1222,  1226  (Alaska
1998)  (quoting Richmond v. Richmond, 779 P.2d 1211, 1215 (Alaska
1989)).

     5     Carroll  v.  Carroll, 903 P.2d 579,  582  n.7  (Alaska
1995).

     6     Williams v. Crawford ex rel. Estate of McVey, 47  P.3d
1077, 1079 (Alaska 2002).

     7    Berry v. Berry, 978 P.2d 93, 95 (Alaska 1999).

     8     State, Commercial Fisheries Entry Commn v. Carlson, 65
P.3d 851, 873-74 (Alaska 2003).

     9    88 P.3d 104, 108 (Alaska 2004).

     10    Alaska R.R. Corp. v. Native Vill. of Eklutna, 142 P.3d
1192, 1201 (Alaska 2006).

     11     Carlson, 65 P.3d at 859 n.52 (quoting Wolff v. Arctic
Bowl,  Inc.,  560 P.2d 758, 763 (Alaska 1977)); see also  47  Am.
Jur. 2d Judgments  469 (2006).

     12     Carlson, 65 P.3d at 859 n.52 (quoting Wolff, 560 P.2d
at 763).

     13    See, e.g., Austin v. Fulton Ins. Co., 498 P.2d 702, 704
(Alaska   1972)  (recognizing  that  insured  was   barred   from
proceeding  against  insurance agent due to an  erroneous  ruling
that  had become the law of the case when not disputed on a prior
appeal);  see also E. H. Schopler, Annotation, Erroneous Decision
as  Law  of the Case on Subsequent Appellate Review, 87  A.L.R.2d
271 (1963).

     14     Carlson, 65 P.3d at 859 (footnotes omitted)  (quoting
Patrick  v.  Sedwick, 413 P.2d 169, 173-74 (Alaska 1966);  Alaska
Diversified Contractors, Inc. v. Lower Kuskokwim Sch. Dist.,  778
P.2d 581, 583 (Alaska 1989)).

     15    Id. at 859 n.52 (quoting Wolff, 560 P.2d at 763).

     16     See id. at 873-74 (declining to address an issue that
could  have been raised in previous appeals of the same case  but
was  not);  Dunlap v. Dunlap, 131 P.3d 471, 475-76 (Alaska  2006)
(Although  our  doctrine of law of the case generally  refers  to
issues that have previously been reviewed at the appellate level,
the doctrine is equally applicable to issues that have been fully
litigated in the superior court and as to which no timely  appeal
has been made.).

     17     Dieringer  v.  Martin, 187 P.3d 468,  473-74  (Alaska
2008).

     18     Petrolane Inc. v. Robles, 154 P.3d 1014, 1026 (Alaska
2007)  (internal quotation marks omitted) (affirming lower courts
decision to treat first jurys negligence findings, which had been
affirmed  in a prior appeal, as conclusive under the law  of  the
case doctrine).

     19     Carlson,  65 P.3d at 874 (alteration in original  and
internal quotation marks omitted).

     20     See Bylers Alaska Wilderness Adventures, Inc. v. City
of  Kodiak, 197 P.3d 199, 206 (Alaska 2008) ([W]hen one  superior
court  judge  makes  a  ruling,  that  superior  court  judge  is
succeeded  by another superior court judge on the same case,  and
the subsequent judge declines to follow a previous order from the
prior  judge[,] we have held that the [law of the case]  doctrine
does not apply.).

     21    88 P.3d 104, 120-21 (Alaska 2004).

     22    Though David characterizes the Johnson & Wales program
as  a hotel management program, the record shows that Annette was
pursuing an MBA in Hospitality with a concentration in Finance.

     23     In  calculating the $83,642 figure  David  was  given
credit for having already paid for Annettes semester at UAA, such
that  his remaining obligation was for two and one-half years  of
school (at the reduced Johnson & Wales tuition rate) rather  than
three.

     24    88 P.3d at 120-21.

     25    Id.

     26      Though  we note that Judge Morse specifically  found
that  David is able to pay, having an income of roughly  $100,000
and significant assets, or at least a mix of assets with which to
fund Annettes education.  David has offered no argument as to why
these findings were erroneous.

     27    See supra subpart IV.A.

     28    See 88 P.3d at 110 (listing parties cross-appeals).

     29    See supra subpart IV.A.

     30     We  note,  however,  that David  could  have  avoided
incurring much of the interest he now owes had he simply paid the
judgment rather than depositing a supersedeas bond.

     31    Conner v. Conner, 68 P.3d 1232, 1234 (Alaska 2003) (The
trial  court has broad discretion to make a property division  in
the manner it determines to be most equitable . . . .).

     32    88 P.3d at 118-19.

     33     Before  Beal  I  the parties filed cross-motions  for
reconsideration regarding the property division.  Annettes motion
challenged  Judge  Gonzalezs failure  to  include  the  purported
$63,788  artwork  appreciation in the  property  division.  David
opposed  Annettes  motion, arguing that the true  amount  of  the
appreciation  was  only $1,200.  Judge Gonzalez  denied  Annettes
motion  but did not elaborate on his reasoning.  In Beal I  David
theorized  that  Judge Gonzalez must have denied Annettes  motion
based  on  his  acceptance of Davids argument  that  the  $63,788
figure   was  in  error  and  that  the  true  appreciation   was
insignificant.

     34    Beal I, 88 P.3d at 119.

     35    Id.

     36    Id.

     37    See supra subpart IV.A.

     38     Beal  I, 88 P.3d at 113.  The one exception  was  our
conclusion that the interim support judgment should have  counted
half of the cost of the appraisal of Davids medical practice as a
support payment to Annette because David had paid for it  and  it
was a cost that the parties were supposed to share.  Id. at 115.

     39    See supra subpart IV.A.

     40    One of Davids rejected claims in Beal I was that a CSED
adjustment  worksheet  used in calculating  the  interim  support
judgment  reflect[ed] no payments by David for child  support  or
spousal  support prior to September 13, 2000, and that  therefore
the  judgment amount was inflated.  This argument appears to have
been  based  on  a  simple  misunderstanding  of  the  adjustment
worksheet.   David corrected this misunderstanding in  his  reply
brief by abandoning this portion of his argument.  We nonetheless
ruled  on  the  issue,  concluding  that  David  had  failed   to
demonstrate  that the superior court did not credit him  for  the
payments made in April and May 2000.  Beal I, 88 P.3d at 115.

     41    See supra note 40.

     42    See supra subpart IV.A.

     43    State, Commercial Fisheries Entry Commn v. Carlson, 65
P.3d  851,  859  (Alaska 2003) (footnotes and internal  quotation
marks omitted).

     44    Id. at 873-74.

     45     To  be  sure,  the superior court  acted  within  its
authority to the extent that in determining the remaining  amount
owed by David under the interim support judgment it accounted for
payments  made  towards the judgment after Beal I,  such  as  the
payments  to Annette out of the supersedeas bond funds.   If  the
$12,918.86  in  question actually reflects such  later  payments,
rather  than  payments that should have been  factored  into  the
judgment in the first place, the superior court should make  this
clear on remand.

     46    Beal I, 88 P.3d at 116-17.

     47    Id. at 116.

     48    Id.

     49    Id.

     50    Id.

     51    Id.

     52     The  mortgage  payments resulting in  this  principal
reduction  were not actually made by David, but rather were  made
by  Annette with funds obtained from the sale of Davids  separate
property.

     53     See  Beal  I,  88 P.3d at 115-18 (discussing  various
credits  David  requested to offset the amount of money  he  owed
Annette under the interim support judgment, including credits for
property  division  matters such as  the  selling  costs  of  the
parties home and the valuation of a table).

     54    Such a deduction should be made retroactive to the date
the  overpayment occurred  here, this would be the date the  home
was  sold because that is the date on which Annette received  the
benefit  of  the  undervaluation of  the  home  in  the  property
division.

     55    Berry v. Berry, 978 P.2d 93, 95 (Alaska 1999).

     56    Id. at 96.

     57     Id.  (quoting  Ramsey v. Ramsey, 834  P.2d  807,  809
(Alaska 1992)).

     58     See  id. ([T]he fact that one party has made payments
from  non-marital income to preserve marital property  should  be
considered as one of the circumstances to be weighed by the trial
court in dividing the marital property. (quoting Ramsey, 834 P.2d
at  809)); see also 2 Brett R. Turner, Equitable Distribution  of
Property   6:86, at 458-63 (3d ed. 2005) (recognizing  that  most
courts  have  treated  this  issue as  completely  discretionary,
though advocating a more structured approach).

     59     See,  e.g., Brown v. Brown, 914 P.2d 206, 208 (Alaska
1996)  (affirming superior courts treatment of the equity created
by  one spouses post-separation mortgage payments as that spouses
separate property).

     60    Conner v. Conner, 68 P.3d 1232, 1234-35 (Alaska 2003).

     61    88 P.3d 104, 116 (Alaska 2004).

     62     Conner,  68 P.3d at 1234 (The trial court  has  broad
discretion  to  make  a  property  division  in  the  manner   it
determines to be most equitable . . . .); Ramsey, 834 P.2d at 809
(holding  that there is no fixed rule requiring credit for  post-
separation payments made to maintain marital property).

     63    Conner, 68 P.3d at 1234-35.

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