Marriage of Strassner, In re, 65448

CourtCourt of Appeal of Missouri (US)
Citation895 S.W.2d 614
Docket NumberNo. 65448,65448
PartiesIn re MARRIAGE OF Louis Robert STRASSNER and Joanne Strassner. Louis Robert STRASSNER, Petitioner/Appellant, v. Joanne STRASSNER, Respondent/Respondent.
Decision Date14 March 1995

Page 614

895 S.W.2d 614
In re MARRIAGE OF Louis Robert STRASSNER and Joanne Strassner.
Louis Robert STRASSNER, Petitioner/Appellant,
Joanne STRASSNER, Respondent/Respondent.
No. 65448.
Missouri Court of Appeals,
Eastern District,
Division Three.
March 14, 1995.

Page 615

Rodolfo Rivera, Fortus, Anderson, Rivera & Hine, Clayton, for appellant.

Nancy E. Emmel, Dubail, Judge P.C., St. Louis, for respondent.

CRANE, Presiding Judge.

Husband, a military retiree, appeals from a decree of dissolution of marriage. He specifically challenges those portions of the decree relating to his military pension and disability benefits and the maintenance award to wife. Because portions of the decree do not wholly conform to federal law relating to military pensions, we reverse and remand.

Joanne Strassner [wife] and Louis Robert Strassner [husband] were married on October 20, 1972 in California. Two children were born during the marriage, both of whom were emancipated at the time of dissolution. Husband entered the Marine Corps in April, 1960. He retired on January 31, 1992 at which time he was rated 40% disabled.

Husband filed a petition for dissolution of marriage on June 11, 1992. The trial court

Page 616

entered a decree dissolving the marriage on December 1, 1993, which was amended on January 7, 1994. At the time the decree was entered, husband was rated 60% disabled and received $1,537 in monthly retirement income and $789 in monthly disability income for a total of $2,326 per month.

In its decree, as amended, the trial court ordered husband to continue to elect wife as sole beneficiary of husband's Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) with the premiums to be deducted from husband's military pay. It ordered that wife was to receive 31% of husband's military pension which it calculated as $476.47 per month. The court prohibited husband from taking any action which would reduce wife's share of husband's pension benefits including merging retired pay with other pensions or waiving any portion of retired pay in order to receive increased disability pay. It provided that husband would indemnify wife for any breach of this provision. It further provided that wife was entitled to any increases in husband's military pension. It also awarded wife nonmodifiable maintenance of $350 per month, a reduction from its original award. Husband challenges these provisions on appeal.

The first three points raised on appeal relate to husband's military pension and disability benefits. A military retiree may receive "retired pay." Mansell v. Mansell, 490 U.S. 581, 583, 109 S.Ct. 2023, 2025, 104 L.Ed.2d 675 (1989). A veteran who becomes disabled as a result of military service is eligible for disability benefits calculated according to the seriousness of the disability and the degree to which the veteran's ability to earn a living has been impaired. Mansell, 490 U.S. at 583, 109 S.Ct. at 2026. To prevent double dipping a disabled military retiree may receive disability benefits, which are tax exempt, only to the extent he or she waives a corresponding amount of retired pay. Id.

The Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act [USFSPA] authorizes state courts to treat "disposable retired pay" as marital property. 10 U.S.C. § 1408(c)(1) (1988 & Supp. V 1993). Missouri considers military nondisability retirement benefits received for service during marriage as marital property. Moritz v. Moritz, 844 S.W.2d 109, 115 (Mo.App.1992). The USFSPA defines "disposable retired pay" as "the total monthly retired pay to which a [military] member is entitled," minus certain deductions. 10 U.S.C. § 1408(a)(4). Among these deductions are amounts waived in order to receive disability benefits, § 1408(a)(4)(B), and amounts deducted as premiums for a SBP, § 1408(a)(4)(D). The United States Supreme Court has interpreted this statute to preclude an award to a former spouse of any amounts of retired pay which do not fall within the definition of "disposable retired pay." Mansell, 490 U.S. at 590, 109 S.Ct. at 2029.


Husband first contends that the trial court misapplied USFSPA by not deducting husband's monthly SBP premium payments when it calculated the amount of husband's "disposable retired pay." In paragraph 8 of its decree, as amended, the trial court ordered:

Wife is entitled to 31% of Husband's military pension. At this time, because of Husband's partial disability rating, her marital share is $476.47 per month.

It is apparent that $476.47 is not 31% of husband's "disposable retired pay." To calculate correctly "disposable retired pay," the trial court should have subtracted husband's monthly disability pay of $789 and the $151.21 monthly SBP premium from husband's monthly gross pay of $2,326. The result indicates the court failed to subtract the monthly SBP premium as required by 10 U.S.C. § 1408(a)(4)(D).

A court order providing for the division of retired pay between spouses must specifically provide for the payment of an amount expressed in dollars or as a percentage of disposable retired pay. 10 U.S.C. § 1408(a)(2)(C). Here the trial court provided for the payment of a percentage of "military pension" and an incorrectly calculated dollar amount. On remand the trial court should make its order comply with § 1408(a)(2)(C) and any applicable regulations

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thereunder as well as make any deductions required by § 1408(a)(4)(B) and (D).

Wife contends her maintenance award should be increased to compensate for the reduction in her share of the pension. The record before us does not clearly indicate whether these two determinations were interdependent. See, e.g., Lynch v. Lynch, 665 S.W.2d 20, 24 (Mo.App.1983). If the maintenance award and the pension distribution were interdependent, the amount of maintenance must be redetermined on remand. See Johnson v. Johnson, 743 S.W.2d 595, 597 (Mo.App.1988).


For his second point husband asserts that the trial court abused its discretion in dividing...

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    ...have a marital settlement agreement that includes an express indemnity provision. (Compare Strassner v. Strassner (Mo.Ct.App. 1995) 895 S.W.2d 614, 617–618 with Morgan v. Morgan (Mo.Ct.App. 2008) 249 S.W.3d 226, 233.)6 Robert also argues that Krempin is distinguishable because there (1) the......
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