An unpublished opinion of the North Carolina Court of Appeals does not constitute controlling legal authority. Citation is disfavored, but may be permitted in accordance with the provisions of Rule 30(e)(3) of the North Carolina Rules of Appellate Proced ure.

NO. COA02-1709


Filed: 7 October 2003

(Formerly LENG),

v .                         Buncombe County
                            No. 99 CVD 5042

    Appeal by defendant from judgment entered 6 December 2001 by Judge Earl J. Fowler, Jr. in Buncombe County District Court. Heard in the Court of Appeals 16 September 2003.

    Carol B. Andres, for plaintiff-appellee.

    The Moore Law Firm, by Jennifer W. Moore, for defendant- appellant.

    LEVINSON, Judge.

    Plaintiff (wife) and defendant (husband) were married 28 June 1997, separated 21 August 1999, and divorced 4 October 2000. An equitable distribution judgment, entered 6 December 2001, classified and distributed the marital property, and ordered the defendant to pay a distributive award to the plaintiff. The judgment contained no findings of fact assigning values to the marital property. The record on appeal includes unsigned, handwritten “scratch notes,” allegedly made by the trial court judge and characterized as an “opinion letter” by plaintiff. These handwritten notes list values next to some of the items of marital property but are ancillary to the judgment and are neitherincorporated by reference nor otherwise made a part of the judgment. Defendant appeals, contending that the judgment is fatally defective because it contains no findings assigning value to the marital property. We agree.
    A district court must determine what is 'marital' property and provide for an equitable distribution of such property; this task is divided into three parts: classification, valuation, and distribution. Khajanchi v. Khajanchi, 140 N.C. App. 552, 556, 537 S.E.2d 845, 848 (2000). “Without a full determination of the net value as of the date of separation of distributed items, the trial court cannot be said to have divided the property equitably.” Glaspy v. Glaspy, 143 N.C. App. 435, 440, 545 S.E.2d 782, 786 (2001).
        Effective appellate review of an order entered by a trial court sitting without a jury is largely dependent upon the specificity by which the order's rationale is articulated. Evidence must support findings; findings must support conclusions; conclusions must support the judgment. Each step of the progression must be taken by the trial judge, in logical sequence; each link in the chain of reasoning must appear in the order itself. Where there is a gap, it cannot be determined on appeal whether the trial court correctly exercised its function to find the facts and apply the law thereto.

Coble v. Coble, 300 N.C. 708, 714, 268 S.E.2d 185, 190 (1980).
     Here, the equitable distribution judgment fails to attribute values to the marital property. Therefore, the conclusions of law with respect to distribution are unsupported by findings of fact valuing the property. Without findings on value, we cannot determine whether the equitable distribution was proper.     Accordingly, we remand this case for additional findings of fact. Because the new findings of fact may warrant a different distribution, the district court should enter a new judgment of equitable distribution.
    Judges WYNN and TYSON concur.
    Report per Rule 30(e).

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