1. Divorce--equitable distribution--payment of distributive award--finding of sufficient liquid assets required
The trial court erred in an equitable distribution case by ordering defendant to pay a distributive award of $52,100.07 without finding that he had sufficient liquid assets with which to pay the award, because: (1) although the trial court found defendant could liquidate his assets to pay the award, the only liquid assets readily available to pay the award were two bank accounts totaling $5,929.38; (2) although defendant may in fact be able to pay the distributive award, defendant's evidence is sufficient to raise the question of whether adjusting the award from defendant to plaintiff is necessary to offset any adverse financial consequences of using the non-liquid assets; and (3) the trial court's finding that defendant earned $93,000 was insufficient under N.C.G.S. § 50-20(c)(1) absent consideration of the evidence of defendant's liabilities.
2. Divorce--equitable distribution-_valuation--application of coverture fraction--
marital portion of pension plan
The trial court did not err in an equitable distribution case by applying a coverture fraction to determine the marital portion of defendant's defined contribution pension plan because: (1) nothing in N.C.G.S. § 50-20.1 or 20.1(d) indicates that the coverture fraction is to be applied only to defined benefit pension plans; and (2) the plain language of N.C.G.S. § 50- 20.1(d) requires application of a coverture fraction to determine the marital portion of all vested and novested pension, retirement, or deferred compensation benefits.
3. Divorce--equitable distribution-_valuation--pension plan--numbers of years of
The trial court's determination in an equitable distribution case that defendant had participated in his pension plan for thirteen years prior to the date of separation was supported by competent evidence.
4. Divorce--equitable distribution-_divisible property--postseparation diminution in
fair market value of marital home
The trial court erred in an equitable distribution case by concluding that a $7,000 postseparation diminution in the fair market value of the marital home was not divisible property, because: (1) competent evidence supported the trial court's finding that both parties contributed to the diminution in value, and a diminution in value is not divisible property when caused by only one party after the date of separation; and (2) the exception clause of N.C.G.S. § 50- 20(b)(4)a does not apply under these facts.
No brief filed for plaintiff-appellee.
Charles Ronald Robertson (defendant) appeals an equitable distribution judgment providing for an equal division of marital assets and ordering him to pay a distributive award to Donna Robertson (plaintiff). We reverse in part and remand.
The parties were married 3 June 1995, separated 11 June 2001, and divorced 4 November 2002. From 1978 until the date of separation, defendant was employed as a sales manager for Performance Specialties, Inc., (PSI) formerly known as Bob Robertson, Inc. (BRI).
The trial court valued the marital estate at $158,630.61 as of the date of separation. The principal assets in the marital estate included defendant's PSI vested pension plan, also referred to as a profit-sharing plan, valued at $95,763.35 and defendant's stock in PSI valued at $37,336.00, both of which were distributed to defendant. The trial court arrived at the marital value of the PSI pension plan by applying a coverture fraction of six/thirteenths to the plan's $207,487.28 date of trial value. The trial court also distributed to defendant two bank accounts totaling $5,929.38, an automobile and other personal property valued at $13,829.68, an unencumbered one-half acre lot adjacent to the marital home valued at $8,920.00, and the marital home valued at -23,387.82. The trial court determined the marital home's value by subtracting the payoff of the two mortgages on the property as of the date of separation, $125,930.84 and $23,456.98 respectively, from its $126,000.00 fair market value as of the date of separation. Accordingly, the net
assets distributed to defendant totaled $138,390.59. Plaintiff's
net assets totaled $20,240.02.
The trial court determined that an equal division of the marital assets was equitable. Accordingly, each party was entitled to one-half the value of the marital estate, $79,315.30. However, the trial court found an in-kind distribution was not equitable because the largest assets of the estate were the PSI pension plan and the PSI stock. The trial court ordered defendant to pay plaintiff a distributive award of $52,100.07 within ninety days of the date of the judgment. In requiring the distributive award, the trial court considered defendant's income at PSI, which was approximately $93,000.00, plus defendant's PSI pension and stock as well as the real and personal property including the bank accounts. Defendant appeals.
I. Finding of Sufficient Liquid Assets
 Defendant first asserts the trial court erred by ordering him to pay the distributive award without finding that he had sufficient liquid assets with which to pay the award. We agree.
The division of marital property is a matter within the sound discretion of the trial court[,] . . . and [the trial court's ruling] will be disturbed only if it is 'so arbitrary that [it] could not have been the result of a reasoned decision.' Gagnon v. Gagnon, 149 N.C. App. 194, 197, 560 S.E.2d 229, 231 (2002) (quoting Lawing v. Lawing, 81 N.C. App. 159, 162, 344 S.E.2d 100, 104 (1986)). Nevertheless, under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 50-20(c) (2003), the trial court must consider certain factors and must make findings as to each factor for which evidence was presented. Rosario v. Rosario, 139 N.C. App. 258, 261, 533 S.E.2d 274, 276 (2000).
unencumbered real estate lot, and
assorted personal property and bank
accounts that he can liquidate, if
necessary, to make a distributional
. . . .
(e) Defendant has an annual income from his employment of at least $93,000.00 as well as an annual profit sharing contribution made solely by his employer.
Although the trial court found defendant could liquidate the above assets to pay the $52,100.07 distributive award, the only liquid assets readily available to pay the award were two bank accounts totaling $5,929.38. Defendant's other assets included stock in PSI valued at $37,336.00, the unencumbered one-half acre lot valued at $8,920.00, and the personal property valued at $13,829.68. With the exception of the pension plan, which the trial court found would be difficult to liquidate and [might] cause unfavorable tax consequences, the trial court failed to make findings concerning the difficulty and possible financial and tax consequences of borrowing money against or liquidating the PSI stock, the one-half acre lot, and the personal property in order to pay the amount of the judgment lien within ninety days. Accordingly, [a]lthough defendant may in fact be able to pay the distributive award, defendant's evidence is sufficient to raise the question of . . . [whether] adjust[ing] the award from defendant to plaintiff [is necessary] to offset any adverse financial consequences of using the non-liquid assets. Embler, 159 N.C. App. at 188-89, 582 S.E.2d at 630-31. Furthermore, the trial court's finding that defendant earned $93,000.00 was insufficient under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 50-20(c)(1) absent consideration of the evidence of defendant's liabilities.
pension plans. Rather, the plain language of N.C. Gen. Stat. § 50-
20.1(d) requires application of a coverture fraction to determine
the marital portion of all vested and nonvested pension,
retirement, or deferred compensation benefit[s]. Accordingly, the
trial court did not err by applying a coverture fraction to
defendant's pension plan.
III. The Denominator of the Coverture Fraction
 Defendant asserts competent evidence did not support the trial court's finding that he participated in the pension plan for thirteen years. Specifically, defendant argues his pension plan extends back to the beginning of his employment with BRI in 1978. In the alternative, defendant contends his participation in the PSI pension plan started nine years prior to his marriage. Where an appellant challenges the trial court's findings of fact, our review is limited to whether the trial court's findings of fact are supported by any competent evidence, regardless of the existence of evidence which may support a contrary finding. Stewart v. Stewart, 141 N.C. App. 236, 247, 541 S.E.2d 209, 217 (2000).
In pertinent part, the trial court's findings of fact state:
9. . . . . The Court finds that [defendant] was employed by [PSI] for a period of 13 years from 1988 to the date of separation in June, 2001. . . .
. . . .
12. The Court finds, based on the evidence presented, that PSI was incorporated in 1988 and was a business started by Defendant's father and formerly known as [BRI]. Defendant came to work for [BRI] in 1978 and was working there when the company merged into PSI in 1988. The Court finds by the greater weight of the evidence that all the contributions made to Defendant's profit sharing plan were made while he was employed at PSI beginning in 1988.
share the consequent diminution in value occasioned by their joint
actions and inactions.
For the foregoing reasons, we reverse in part and remand the judgment to the trial court for: (1) additional findings of fact regarding whether an adjustment is needed to offset any adverse financial consequences to defendant for liquidating assets to pay the distributive award and defendant's liabilities as compared to his income and property and (2) a valuation of the marital home's diminution in value and the distribution of that diminution between the parties. On remand, the trial court shall rely upon the existing record, but may in its sole discretion receive such further evidence and further argument from the parties as it deems necessary and appropriate to comply with the instant opinion. Heath v. Heath, 132 N.C. App. 36, 38, 509 S.E.2d 804, 805 (1999).
Reversed in part and remanded.
Judges ELMORE and STEELMAN concur.