NOTICE: The opinions posted here are subject to formal
revision. If you find a typographical error or other formal error, please notify
the Virginia Court of Appeals.
COURT OF APPEALS OF VIRGINIA
Present: Chief Judge Fitzpatrick, Judges Annunziata and Clements
Argued at Alexandria, Virginia
Record No. 2516-02-4
GLORIA A. CLAURE
NEIL F. MURRAY
BY JUDGE JEAN HARRISON CLEMENTS
SEPTEMBER 30, 2003
FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE CITY OF ALEXANDRIA
Donald M. Haddock, Judge
Michael A. Ward (Michael A. Ward, P.C., on
briefs), for appellant.
Alan B. Soschin for appellee.
Gloria A. Claure (wife) appeals from a final decree of
divorce entered on August 28, 2002, granting Neil F. Murray
(husband) a divorce on the ground that the parties had lived
separate and apart for more than one year. She contends the
court erred (1) in failing to grant her a divorce on the ground
cruelty or constructive desertion; (2) in refusing to award her
spousal support; (3) in awarding the marital home, the parties’
automobile, and various financial and investment accounts to
husband and granting her a monetary award of only $50,000; and
(4) in denying her request for attorney’s fees.
wife seeks an award of appellate attorney’s fees. For the
that follow, we affirm the decision of the trial court and deny
wife’s request for appellate attorney’s fees.
As the parties are fully conversant with the record in this
case and because this memorandum opinion carries no precedential
value, this opinion recites only those facts and incidents of
proceedings as are necessary to the parties’ understanding of
disposition of this appeal.
I. GROUNDS OF DIVORCE
Wife first contends the trial court erred in not granting her
a divorce on the ground of cruelty or constructive desertion by
husband. In her opening appellate brief, wife’s entire argument
in support of her claim of trial court error is as follows:
The evidence at trial clearly showed
that Husband was physically and verbally
abusive to Wife. This conduct was supported
by the protective Order entered by the
Juvenile Court in February, 2001. The trial
court erred in not finding the Husband guilty
of cruelty and constructive desertion.
Rule 5A:20(e) requires that the appellant’s opening brief
include the "principles of law, the argument, and the
relating to each question presented." Here, wife’s opening
does not meet the requirements of Rule 5A:20(e) with regard to
issue of the grounds of divorce. Wife fails to present any
principles of law or to argue the issue with any specificity,
relying instead on broad, conclusory assertions. Wife also fails
to provide any citation to controlling legal authority that
supports her position with respect to this issue.
As we stated in Buchanan v. Buchanan, 14 Va. App. 53, 56, 415
S.E.2d 237, 239 (1992), "[s]tatements unsupported by
authority, or citations to the record do not merit appellate
consideration. We will not search the record for errors in order
to interpret the appellant’s contention and correct deficiencies
in a brief." See also Theismann v. Theismann, 22 Va. App.
572, 471 S.E.2d 809, 816 (declining to address an argument on
appeal that was inadequately developed in appellant’s brief),
aff’d en banc, 23 Va. App. 697, 479 S.E.2d 534 (1996);
v. Bass, 6 Va. App. 38, 56 n.7, 366 S.E.2d 615, 625 n.7 (1988)
banc) (noting it is not this Court’s "function to comb
record . . . in order to ferret-out for ourselves the validity
Accordingly, this claim of trial court error does not warrant
appellate consideration and we, therefore, do not consider it on
II. SPOUSAL SUPPORT
Wife next contends the trial court erred in refusing to award
her spousal support. The crux of wife’s one-and-one-half-page
argument in her opening appellate brief in support of that
contention reads as follows:
In a divorce case where a claim for alimony
is made by a wife who has been held blameless
for the marital breach, the law imposes upon
the husband a duty, within the limits of his
financial ability, to maintain his former
wife according to the station in life to
which she was accustomed during the marriage.
Via v. Via, 14 Va. App. 868, 419 S.E.2d 431
(1992). In this case, the wife was not found
to be at fault for the marital breakup.
Accordingly, the Husband should have been
required to pay spousal support to the Wife
according to the station in life to which she
was accustomed during the marriage.
Wife cites no other legal authority and provides no further
explanation of her claim. She does not allege that the trial
court failed to properly consider the factors set forth in Code
? 20-107.1. Nor does she allege that the trial court gave undue
consideration to any one particular factor. Moreover, she does
not address the trial court’s finding that there was no evidence
in the record "relative to the parties’ standard of
less explain how "the station in life to which she was
could be determined in light of that finding. Because wife’s
argument is inadequately developed, we need not address this
question on appeal. See Theismann, 22 Va. App. at 572, 471
S.E.2d at 816.
Wife also argues that the trial court erred in refusing to
grant her a reservation of the right to receive future spousal
support. Wife, however, never made a request to the trial court
for a reservation of the right to receive future spousal support
and raised no objection when no such reservation was granted by
the trial court. Consequently, we will not address the merits of
wife’s argument. See Ohree v. Commonwealth, 26 Va. App. 299,
308, 494 S.E.2d 484, 488 (1988) (holding that we will not
address an issue raised for the first time on appeal); Rule
Wife further argues in her opening brief that there was no
credible evidence to support the trial court’s findings that she
was voluntarily unemployed and could earn at least $30,000 a
There was, she asserts in her brief, no expert testimony
and no evidence that any such job was available to her. However,
as with wife’s first argument concerning the grounds of divorce,
this argument is devoid of any applicable principles of law and
any citations to controlling legal authority that support her
position. Thus, we will not consider the argument on appeal. See
Buchanan, 14 Va. App. at 56, 415 S.E.2d at 239.
Wife also argues, with respect to the issue of spousal
support, that the trial court erred in finding that her monetary
award of $50,000, made pursuant to Code ? 20-107.3, should be
for her support and would be adequate for that purpose over the
next several years. It is clear, wife claims, that the trial
court improperly viewed the monetary award as support for wife.
We disagree with wife’s characterization of the trial court’s
Having determined that wife was voluntarily unemployed and
capable of earning $30,000 a year, the trial court concluded,
consideration of the evidence and the factors in Code
? 20-107.1(E), "that no spousal support [was] appropriate
matter." The trial court then stated as follows:
[T]he monetary award of the $50,000 will be
adequate to support the wife over the next
several years during which she can, if she is
able, obtain the necessary means to become a
doctor. If not, she can certainly go back to
work as a physician’s or a medical assistant
and make a perfectly adequate livelihood.
Under Code ? 20-107.1(F), the trial court was required to
identify those factors listed in Code ? 20-107.1(E) that
its denial of spousal support to wife. We believe the trial
court’s statement quoted above was intended to satisfy that
requirement with respect to two of the factors listed in Code
? 20-107.1(E): "[t]he provisions made with regard to the
marital property under [Code] ? 20-107.3" and "[t]he
capacity, including the skills, education and training of the
parties . . . ." In the statement in question, the trial
merely pointed out that, if she chose to remain voluntarily
unemployed, wife could use the monetary award to return to
Thus, contrary to wife’s assertions, the trial court did not
that the monetary award should be used for wife’s support.
III. EQUITABLE DISTRIBUTION
Wife also contends the trial court erred (1) in classifying
the marital home as husband’s separate property and awarding it
husband, (2) in ordering her to vacate possession of the marital
home prior to the date she would have been required to do so
the terms of a prior protective order, (3) in awarding various
financial and investment accounts to husband, and (4) in
her a monetary award of only $50,000.
Wife addresses each of these claims individually in her
opening appellate brief. Wife’s brief, however, fails to meet
requirements of Rule 5A:20(e) with respect to each of these
issues. Wife fails to present any principles of law or to argue
the issues with any specificity, relying instead on broad,
conclusory assertions. Wife also fails to provide any citation
controlling legal authority that supports her position with
respect to any of these issues. Accordingly, wife’s arguments do
not merit appellate review. See Buchanan, 14 Va. App. at 56, 415
S.E.2d at 239.
Wife also argues that the trial court erred in awarding the
automobile in husband’s possession to husband. Wife, however,
made no such argument before the trial court. Accordingly, we do
not address this claim on appeal. See Ohree, 26 Va. App. at 308,
494 S.E.2d at 488; Rule 5A:18.
IV. ATTORNEY’S FEES
Wife lastly contends the trial court erred in denying her an
award of attorney’s fees. Wife’s entire argument regarding
attorney’s fees states as follows:
Given the greater resources and earning
power of Husband, and the lack of same of the
Wife, it was error for the trial court not to
award Wife attorney’s fees, especially when
the court did not find her at fault for the
dissolution of the marriage.
Again, Rule 5A:20(e) precludes our review of this issue in light
of the inadequacy of wife’s attempt at appellate argument. See
Buchanan, 14 Va. App. at 56, 415 S.E.2d at 239.
Wife’s appeal being procedurally barred or without merit, we
deny her request for appellate attorney’s fees. See O’Loughlin
O’Loughlin, 23 Va. App. 690, 695, 479 S.E.2d 98, 100 (1996).
For these reasons, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.
Code ? 17.1-413, this opinion is not
designated for publication.
of this appeal, we have, in identifying the
issues raised on appeal, consolidated some of wife’s
interrelated questions presented.