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11/24/97 DEBORAH JOANNE CUPPLES PLUNK v. EDWARD LEE

November 24, 1997

DEBORAH JOANNE CUPPLES PLUNK, PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT.
v.
EDWARD LEE PLUNK, DEFENDANT/APPELLEE.



From the Chancery Court of Chester County at Henderson. Honorable Joe C. Morris, Chancellor. No. 8847.

Farmer, J., Crawford, P.j., W.s. (Concurs), Holly K. Lillard, J. (Concurs).

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Farmer

Plaintiff Deborah Joanne Cupples Plunk (Wife) appeals the final divorce decree entered by the trial court which awarded custody of the parties' two children to the Wile, ordered Defendant/Appellee Edward Lee Plunk (Husband) to pay child support and rehabilitative alimony to the Wife, and distributed the parties' real and personal property. We affirm.

The parties were married for twenty-six years and had two daughters, who were thirteen and fifteen years of age at the time of trial. The parties' primary source of income during the marriage was their retail western-wear store, Boots For Less. Until the time of their separation, both parties worked full-time at the store. The Husband did the paperwork for the store and sold merchandise. The Wife waited on customers, stocked inventory, maintained the store's computer inventory system, cleaned, and performed other tasks as required. The Wife participated in the management of the store and was capable of running the store when the Husband was not there.

The parties 1992 and 1993 tax returns, respectively, indicated total income of $83,947 and $63,252. Although the tax returns attributed this income solely to the Husband, it was undisputed that neither party drew a set salary from Boots For Less and that most of this income was generated by the store, where both parties worked full-time. The parties also earned a small income from their activities as licensed bail bondsmen and from rental properties which they acquired over the years, including the Magic Valley property on which Boots For Less was located and various residential properties.

At the time of trial, the Wife was forty-three years old and had a high school education. Most of her job experience came from working at Boots For Less. After the parties' separation, the Wife contacted other retail stores to inquire about employment opportunities. The Wife did not think it would be a problem for her to find a new job.

The Husband had a high school education and some college education and military experience. Like the Wife, most of the Husband's job experience came from his employment at Boots For Less. The Husband also owned a one-half interest in two Subway restaurants, which he formerly valued at $25,000; however, the Husband testified that the Subways had no value at the time of trial because their debts exceeded their assets. According to the Husband, the Subways owed $38,041.35 to their suppliers and $27,246.57 in back taxes. During the year prior to the divorce, the Subways earned no profits.

In the final divorce decree, the trial court divided most of the parties' marital property equally, with all real property to be owned by the parties as tenants in common. The marital estate, which was valued in excess of $900,000, included, but was not limited to, the following properties:

PROPERTY APPROXIMATE VALUE

Magic Valley property $175,000

Marital home $150,000

26 acres adjacent to marital home $104,000

Accounts receivables ...


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