COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: MONROE COUNTY CHANCERY COURT. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 05/13/2013. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. JACQUELINE ESTES MASK. TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: GRANTED APPELLEE'S REQUEST FOR HER SHARE OF APPELLANT'S RETIREMENT FUNDS.
FOR APPELLANT: CANDACE COOPER BLALOCK.
FOR APPELLEE: TAMMY WOOLBRIGHT.
BEFORE GRIFFIS, P.J., MAXWELL AND FAIR, JJ. LEE, C.J., IRVING AND GRIFFIS, P.JJ., BARNES, ISHEE, ROBERTS, CARLTON AND MAXWELL, JJ., CONCUR. JAMES, J., NOT PARTICIPATING.
NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - DOMESTIC RELATIONS
¶1. George Aaron appeals the Monroe County Chancery Court's denial of his request to reconsider the judgment of divorce, in which he was ordered to pay his former wife a monthly payment from his retirement account. Finding no error, we affirm.
¶2. George Aaron and Annie Aaron were married on May 25, 1991, in Monroe County, Mississippi. Annie filed for divorce in 2001. On August 12, 2002, a judgment of divorce was entered in Monroe County on the ground of irreconcilable differences. As part of the divorce, George agreed to pay Annie one-half of his retirement funds acquired during the marriage. The judgment stated the funds would be transferred through a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). At the time the judgment was entered, George was not receiving any retirement benefits. The judgment did not state which party was responsible for entering the QDRO.
¶3. In August 2011, George retired from the Amory Police Department. He began receiving benefits through the Mississippi Public Employees' Retirement System (PERS). On November 4, 2011, Annie filed a motion to cite George for contempt, further requesting that he pay to her the share of her past-due retirement funds with interest. In his motion to dismiss, George claimed that it was Annie's responsibility to transfer the funds through a QDRO; he also claimed he had done nothing to prevent Annie from doing so.
¶4. The court held a hearing on February 19, 2013. George testified that he had not made payments to Annie because he expected her to initiate the collection of the funds through the QDRO. Annie testified that she thought it was George's responsibility to draft the QDRO. When Annie realized George was about to retire, she contacted her attorney to garner her share of the funds. Annie was unable to collect due to the fact that PERS retirement benefits are exempt from a QDRO. George's PERS statement reflected that he received around $1,629 per month in retirement benefits.
¶5. On March 6, 2013, the chancellor entered an order ruling that Annie was entitled to her share of George's retirement funds as specified in the original divorce decree. The chancellor calculated the amount owed by dividing the years of marriage (eleven years) by the total years of accumulated retirement (twenty) to determine that fifty-five percent of his retirement benefits were acquired during the marriage. The chancellor then divided that percentage by two to arrive at the twenty-seven and a half percent to which Annie was entitled. Finally, the chancellor multiplied that percentage by $1629.09 -- the amount that George was receiving per month in retirement benefits, ordering George to pay Annie $448 per month until further order of the court. The chancellor also determined that George owed Annie $8,512 at the rate of three percent per annum for the amount of unpaid retirement funds from August ...