Boyett v. Boyett

Decision Date11 December 1997
Docket NumberNo. 89722,89722
Citation703 So.2d 451
Parties22 Fla. L. Weekly S755 Eldis Raymell BOYETT, Petitioner, v. Merle M. BOYETT, Jr., Respondent.
CourtFlorida Supreme Court

Jed Berman and James W. Kline of Infantino & Berman, Winter Park, for Petitioner

George E. Adams of Adams, Hill, Reis, Adams, Hall & Schieffelin, Orlando, for Respondent.

WELLS, Justice.

We have for review Boyett v. Boyett, 683 So.2d 1140 (Fla. 5th DCA 1996), which certified conflict with Kirkland v. Kirkland, 618 So.2d 295 (Fla. 1st DCA 1993), and DeLoach v. DeLoach, 590 So.2d 956 (Fla. 1st DCA 1991). We have jurisdiction. Art. V, § 3(b)(4), Fla. Const.

Eldis (petitioner) and Merle (respondent) Boyett were married on August 20, 1960. On June 3, 1993, respondent, the ex-husband, filed a petition for dissolution of marriage. At the time of the filing, respondent had been employed with the Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC) for approximately thirty-six years and had a vested and mature interest 1 in an OUC defined benefits retirement plan, with a retirement date of September 1, 2001, his sixty-second birthday. Under the terms of the plan, upon retirement he would receive annual benefits equal to seventy-five percent of the average of his three highest annual salaries. 2

Based on evidence adduced at trial, the court found that respondent would be entitled to $2,860.86 per month on the date of dissolution, assuming he had retired and reached age sixty-two at that time. However, due to a penalty of two percent per year for early retirement, if he actually retired and drew on the benefits on the date of dissolution (prior to age sixty-two), he would have been entitled only to a monthly payout of $2,388.82. Following the deferred distribution method approved for retirement benefits in DeLoach and Kirkland, the trial court distributed the plan as follows:

1. Benefits accrued as of June 1, 1993 will be distributed 50% to wife and 50% to husband upon husband's retirement; and

2. Benefits accruing after June 1, 1993 will be distributed to wife under the following formula and the remainder to husband:

50% X (360 divided by [360 / number of months from June 1, 1993 to date of retirement] ).

The court also awarded [petitioner] $1,200 per month in permanent alimony, citing the factors listed in subsection 61.08(2), Florida Statutes (1993). Further, it required [respondent] to contribute $10,000 of [petitioner's] $15,000 attorney's fees and, citing [respondent's] superior earning ability, ordered him to pay 75 percent of the parties' Sears and appraisal debts.

Boyett, 683 So.2d at 1142.

On appeal, the Fifth District agreed with respondent's argument that "the approach taken in DeLoach unfairly compensates [petitioner] for [respondent's] efforts and labor following the dissolution." Id. at 1143. The district court then reversed paragraph two of the distribution, holding that "the valuation of a retirement plan should exclude any contributions made after the original final judgment of dissolution." Id. (quoting Bain v. Bain, 553 So.2d 1389, 1391 (Fla. 5th DCA 1990)). The district court noted that its decision was in conflict with the First District's decisions in Kirkland and DeLoach and certified conflict to this Court.

DeLoach involved the issue of the proper distribution of a nonvested military pension plan. The First District expressed concern about the complexities involved in reducing a nonvested pension plan to present value due to the numerous contingencies that may affect vesting. Therefore, the court adopted the deferred distribution method of allocating interest in nonvested pension plans at the time the employee spouse retires, reasoning that deferring distribution until benefits are actually paid "divides equally the risk that the pension will fail to vest." DeLoach, 590 So.2d at 963 (quoting In re Marriage of Brown, 15 Cal.3d 838, 126 Cal.Rptr. 633, 639, 544 P.2d 561, 567 (1976)). The approach taken in DeLoach requires: (1) the trial court must retain jurisdiction over the case until the employee spouse retires or begins to draw on pension benefits; (2) then, at such a time, the trial court must allocate the amount paid based on a fraction that takes into account the total period of the employee spouse's participation in the pension plan; and (3) in making the award, the trial court must account for increases in the employee spouse's retirement benefits that accrue between the date of dissolution and the date of retirement. DeLoach, 590 So.2d at 963. In Kirkland, the First District extended the DeLoach reasoning to vested plans, finding that it was "equally applicable to the vested pension plan at issue." Kirkland, 618 So.2d at 297.

We approve the holding of the Fifth District in this case that the valuation of a vested retirement plan is not to include any contributions made after the original judgment of dissolution. We believe that this gives effect to the statutory definition of marital assets in section 61.075(5)(a), Florida Statutes (1993), 3 and to section 61.076(1), Florida Statutes (1993). 4 Likewise, we approve Bain v. Bain, 553 So.2d 1389, 1391 (Fla. 5th DCA 1990), and Howerton v. Howerton, 491 So.2d 614, 615 (Fla. 5th DCA 1986). We disapprove DeLoach and Kirkland to the extent they conflict with this holding.

We do recognize the validity of petitioner's argument that it is inequitable to value the retirement plan as of the date of dissolution based upon the fiction that respondent retired on that date when in reality a valuation on that date includes a penalty of two percent per year until he reaches age sixty-two. We agree with Judge Harris that it is more equitable for the valuation to be made excluding any penalty for early retirement. Respondent's counsel conceded the logic and fairness of this at oral argument. Furthermore, this is in accord with the reasoning of the Second District in Trant v. Trant, 545 So.2d 428 (Fla. 2d DCA), review denied, 551 So.2d 464 (Fla.1989), with respect to deferred distribution. By valuing the retirement plan without penalty, the valuation recognizes that both parties are entitled to share in the benefits that have accrued during the marriage but which cannot be presently received without penalty. Both parties also get the benefit of the growth of that value simply because the payments are not received beginning at the time of dissolution. Of course, as both Judge Harris and the Trant...

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38 cases
  • Acker v. Acker, 3D00-3096.
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • May 22, 2002
    ...parties are entitled to the benefit of the growth of the value of the plan existing at the time of the dissolution. See Boyett v. Boyett, 703 So.2d 451 (Fla.1997). However, the Florida Supreme Court in Boyett recognized that the recipient spouse does not have the right to participate in the......
  • Jensen v. Jensen
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • August 28, 2002
    ...v. Kirkland, 618 So.2d 295, 297 (Fla. 1st DCA 1993). We take note though of the Florida Supreme Court's opinion in Boyett v. Boyett, 703 So.2d 451, 452 (Fla.1997). In Boyett, the supreme court held that the valuation of a vested retirement plan does not include any contributions made after ......
  • Coons v. Coons, 1D99-2659.
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • July 6, 2000
    ...omission is error as a matter of law and requires reversal of the distribution of the military retirement benefits. See Boyett v. Boyett, 703 So.2d 451 (Fla.1997) (in accordance with definition of marital assets in § 61.075(5)(a), Fla. Stat. (1993), valuation of vested retirement plan could......
  • Jahnke v. Jahnke, No. 3D01-1316
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • December 26, 2001
    ...value on some future date. The cases cited by the former husband, Diffenderfer v. Diffenderfer, 491 So.2d 265 (Fla.1986), Boyett v. Boyett, 703 So.2d 451 (Fla.1997), and DeLoach v. DeLoach, 590 So.2d 956 (Fla. 1st DCA), all pertain to pensions which involve future rights. Unlike a pension, ......
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8 books & journal articles
  • Equitable distribution and property issues
    • United States
    • James Publishing Practical Law Books Florida Family Law and Practice - Volume 1
    • April 30, 2022
    ...entitled to share in the benefits that accrued during the marriage but cannot be presently received without penalty. [ Boyett v. Boyett, 703 So. 2d 451 (Fla. 1998).] Absent any proof of non-marital contributions to a pension plan, the trial court can treat the entire value of it as a marita......
  • Stock options in divorce: assets or income?
    • United States
    • Florida Bar Journal Vol. 74 No. 5, May 2000
    • May 1, 2000
    ...--P. 2d --., 1999 WL 515774 (Colo. App. 1999); citing In re Marriage of Huston, 967 P. 2d 181 (Colo. App. 1998). (14) Boyett v. Boyett, 703 So.2d 451 (Fla. 1997). (15) Blevins v. Blevins, 649 So.2d 315 (Fla. 1st D.C.A. 1995). (16) Hudson Motor Car v. U.S., 3 F.Supp 834 (Ct. C1. 1933). (17) ......
  • A seven-step analysis of equitable distribution in Florida.
    • United States
    • Florida Bar Journal Vol. 73 No. 5, May 1999
    • May 1, 1999
    ...arise when dealing with retirement or pension plans. The Florida Supreme Court considered a vested retirement plan in Boyett v. Boyett, 703 So. 2d 451, 453 (Fla. 1997), and held that the value of the plan should not include any contributions made after the judgment of dissolution. Boyett al......
  • Determining the nonmarital portion of pensions and retirement benefits.
    • United States
    • Florida Bar Journal Vol. 83 No. 2, February 2009
    • February 1, 2009
    ...one of the issues addressed in our February 2001 article, "Dividing Pension Property After Boyett,"(3) because the Boyett v. Boyett, 703 So. 2d 451 (Fla. 1998), ruling continues to be misinterpreted. That article addressed two theories invariably used throughout the country in determining a......
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