Fry v. Kersey

Decision Date26 June 1992
Docket NumberNo. 91-CA-002068-S,91-CA-002068-S
PartiesHelen FRY (formerly Kersey), Appellant, v. Bobby KERSEY, Appellee.
CourtKentucky Court of Appeals

Gordon J. Dill, Ashland, for appellant.

John F. Vincent, Ashland, for appellee.



Helen Fry appeals from a 1991 Boyd Circuit Court order which overruled her CR 60.02(f) motion to reopen the 1986 final decree dissolving her marriage to Bobby Kersey. Fry argues that because the trial court did not allocate Kersey's pension plan when it distributed the parties' other marital assets, the case should be remanded to the trial court with directions to distribute the retirement benefits between the parties.

In 1978, the Supreme Court, in separate opinions, held that any interest that a party may have in the property of the other which is not disposed of by the trial court in the dissolution decree remains "in the same posture as if the court had so adjudged their respective interests." Ping v. Denton, Ky., 562 S.W.2d 314, 317 (1978). See also Kidwell v. Mason, Ky., 564 S.W.2d 534 (1978). Thus, if Fry had an interest in Kersey's pension plan at the time of the decree, she would still have an interest in the plan after the decree was entered, even if the pension was not disposed of by the trial court at that time.

We have stated on several occasions that whether the plan is contributing or noncontributing, the operative factor in determining whether benefits under a pension plan are marital or nonmarital property in dissolution actions is whether vesting has occurred. Ratcliff v. Ratcliff, Ky.App., 586 S.W.2d 292, 293 (1979); Foster v. Foster, Ky.App., 589 S.W.2d 223, 224 (1979). In Foster, we said that vesting occurs when "the [spouse is] entitled to receive monthly payments upon termination for any cause, with only the amount to be fixed." Id. at 224. We have also determined that pension benefits that have not vested are too speculative to be considered marital property. Ratcliff at 293. Consequently, in assigning pension benefits as marital or nonmarital property, the trial court must determine whether the pension has vested. In this case, there is no evidence to indicate whether or not vesting had occurred when the dissolution decree was entered.

Fry argues that extraordinary circumstances exist in this case to justify reopening the dissolution decree under KRS 403.250 and CR 60.02(f) so that Kersey's pension plan may be apportioned between the parties.

In Taylor v. Taylor, Ky.App., 598 S.W.2d 764 (1980), we held that "nothing in [Ping or Kidwell ] abrogates an aggrieved party's right to utilize CR 60.02." Id. at 764.

Having established that a decree of dissolution does not preclude a party from taking action to recover unassigned property in which he or she had an interest at the time of the decree, and that CR 60.02 may be a proper vehicle for reopening the decree, we must now determine whether the facts as contained in the record justify reopening the 1986 divorce decree under CR 60.02(f).

In pertinent part, KRS 403.250(1) provides that "[t]he provisions [of a dissolution decree] as to property disposition may not be revoked or modified, unless the court finds the existence of conditions that justify the reopening of a judgment under the laws of this state." The law of this state relating to the reopening of decrees is found in CR 60.02. Under the residual clause of that rule, a judgment may be set aside for "reason[s] of an extraordinary nature justifying relief." CR 60.02(f). Kentucky's highest court has warned, however, that "because of the desirability of according finality to judgments, this clause must be invoked only with extreme caution, and only under most unusual circumstances." Cawood v. Cawood, Ky., 329 S.W.2d 569, 571 (1959). To the same effect is Bishir v. Bishir, Ky., 698 S.W.2d 823, 826 (1985).

The trial court apparently did not believe that such compelling circumstances exist in the present case to justify disturbing the decree, and we agree. Nearly five years elapsed between the entry of a decree dissolving the parties' marriage and the filing of Fry's CR 60.02(f) motion. Prior to that time, Fry had several occasions to discuss marital assets with the domestic relations commissioner and the trial court, but failed to mention the pension plan. Fry did not move the court to alter or amend its decree to deal with pension benefits, nor did she challenge it on appeal.

In Schott v. Citizens Fidelity Bank & Trust Co., Ky.App., 692 S.W.2d 810, 814 (1985), we said:

[T]he determination to grant relief from a judgment or order...

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21 cases
  • Copas v. Copas, Nos. 2009–CA–000685–MR
    • United States
    • Kentucky Court of Appeals
    • February 3, 2012
    ...from the date the final order was entered, a party must allege grounds to reopen the judgment or order under CR 60.02. Fry v. Kersey, 833 S.W.2d 392, 394 (Ky.App.1992). The family court did not specify in its November 17, 2008 order under which rule it was modifying the 1999 Property Order.......
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  • Patten v. Patten
    • United States
    • Kentucky Court of Appeals
    • May 17, 2019 re-open the decree and set aside the incorporated property settlement agreement as unconscionable under CR 60.02); Fry v. Kersey, 833 S.W.2d 392 (Ky. App. 1992) (noting CR 60.02(f) may be a proper vehicle for reopening a divorce decree). Turning back to the case before us, Nave brought t......
  • Caudill v. Summers
    • United States
    • Kentucky Court of Appeals
    • April 2, 2021
    ...CR3 54.01; 60.02. See also Cawood v. Cawood, 329 S.W.2d 569 (Ky. 1959); Mullins v. Hess, 131 S.W.3d 769 (Ky. App. 2004); Fry v. Kersey, 833 S.W.2d 392 (Ky. App. 1992). Here, no party has ever appealed, contested, or otherwise sought to modify the October 1, 2019 order. And because of that, ......
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1 books & journal articles
  • § 7.10 Pensions
    • United States
    • Full Court Press Divorce, Separation and the Distribution of Property Title CHAPTER 7 Property Acquired or Improved with Both Separate and Marital Property
    • Invalid date
    ...1080 (Ind. App. 1991); In re Adams, 14 Fam. L. Rep. (BNA) 1275 (Ind. App. 1988); cf., Ind. Code § 31-1-11.5-2. Kentucky: Fry v. Kersey, 833 S.W.2d 392 (Ky. App. 1992); Ratcliff v. Ratcliff, 586 S.W.2d 292 (Ky. App. 1979). Cf.: Glidewell v. Glidewell, 859 S.W.2d 675 (Ky. App. 1993) (unvested......

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