Monday, October 13, 2008

KS Court of Appeal rules divorce court can't keep jurisdiction over possible future pension...

I understand this article is old but thought it could be useful to anybody that has a pension or retirement that they may be concerned about when it comes to a divorce.

A court couldn't retain jurisdiction to divide pension benefits that a husband might be offered in the future, the Kansas Court of Appeals has ruled.

The plaintiff was the pastor of a small church that had no retirement plan for employees. However, on two prior occasions, the church had provided retiring pastors with lifetime retirement benefits or monetary gifts. Each time, the decision was made ad hoc at the time of the pastor's retirement, and the church's board of directors subsequently agreed that no similar benefit would be provided in the future.

When the plaintiff and his wife divorced, the state court decided to retain jurisdiction over any retirement benefits the plaintiff might receive in the future.

The plaintiff argued that the court didn't have jurisdiction over property that the parties might own in the future.

The Kansas Court of Appeals agreed.

"The court cannot reserve jurisdiction to divide at some future time a retirement plan that is not in being and never has been in being," the court said.

Here, "a district court [does not have] jurisdiction to delay the final division of property for an indeterminate number of years to see if a spouse will gain a retirement or pension plan not in existence at the time of the divorce. [A]lthough district courts have broad discretion to adjust the property rights of parties to a divorce action, such discretion extends only to actually dividing the property.... 'A court may not defer making a decision.' The district court in this case abused its discretion by refusing to enter a final order dividing the marital property as required by statute."

In the Matter of the Marriage of Crane (Lawyers USA No. 9934326) Kansas Court of Appeals No. 94,321. Sept. 29, 2006.

By USA, Lawyers
Publication: Lawyers USA
Date: Monday, October 23 2006

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