Marsh v. Wallace, 03-94-00313-CV

CourtCourt of Appeals of Texas
Citation924 S.W.2d 423
Docket NumberNo. 03-94-00313-CV,03-94-00313-CV
PartiesRichard Lee MARSH, Appellant, v. Wanda Maria WALLACE, Appellee.
Decision Date05 June 1996

Page 423

924 S.W.2d 423
Richard Lee MARSH, Appellant,
Wanda Maria WALLACE, Appellee.
No. 03-94-00313-CV.
Court of Appeals of Texas,
June 5, 1996.

Page 424

Terri Motl, Smith, Carter, Rose, Finley & Griffis, San Angelo, for appellant.

Richard O. Ely, II, Krohn & Ely, L.L.P., Houston, for appellee.


ABOUSSIE, Justice.

This cause presents the issue of whether a divorce decree awarding a former spouse a portion of her ex-husband's military retirement benefits entitles her to receive a share of a Special Separation Benefit ("SSB") lump sum payment received pursuant to 10 U.S.C.A. § 1174a (West Supp.1996). Appellant Richard Lee Marsh ("Marsh") appeals from the trial court's order enforcing the decree by awarding a portion of the SSB payment to his former wife, appellee Wanda Maria Wallace ("Wallace"). We will affirm the trial court's order.


Marsh and Wallace were divorced in 1989. The divorce decree provided that Wallace receive twenty-nine percent of Marsh's retirement pay if, as, and when Marsh begins to receive retirement pay. 1 At the time of the divorce, Marsh was not yet eligible to draw retirement pay but was serving on active duty with the United States Air Force, classified as an 0-3 with thirteen years of service. In 1992, Marsh elected to separate voluntarily from active duty in the Air Force. Taking advantage of newly enacted legislation, Marsh was able to be released from the service before becoming eligible for retirement but nevertheless receive a lump sum SSB payment of $86,892.16 based upon his rank, base pay and years of service. See 10 U.S.C.A § 1174a(b)(2) (West Supp.1996). Following his separation from active duty, Marsh has served in the military reserves, accruing additional credit toward retirement, as the statute permits. See 10 U.S.C.A. § 8911 (West Supp.1996). In the event that he eventually becomes eligible to receive retirement benefits, those benefits will be reduced by the amount of the SSB lump sum payment he received. See 10 U.S.C.A. § 1174a(g) (West Supp.1996).

Wallace filed a motion to enforce the divorce decree, alleging that the SSB payment was retirement pay as described in the property division. The trial court ordered Marsh to make an appearance. Marsh filed a pro se answer denying that he had received any retirement pay from the military, but he failed to appear at the hearing. The trial court rendered a default judgment against Marsh, implicitly concluding that the SSB payment was retirement pay and awarding Wallace almost $40,000, representing her share under the divorce decree. Marsh filed a motion to set aside the default judgment. The court declined to relitigate the legal issue of whether Marsh's SSB payment was retirement pay but granted a new trial with respect to the amount of the SSB payment Marsh had received and the proportionate share that should be awarded to Wallace. Following the second hearing, the trial court awarded Wallace $21,606.29 out of Marsh's

Page 425

net SSB payment and issued a conclusion of law that "Special Separation Pay received pursuant to 10 U.S.C. Sec. 1174a is retirement pay." Marsh appeals the trial court's order by three points of error.

In his first two points of error, Marsh complains that the trial court erred in concluding that the SSB payment he received pursuant to section 1174a was retirement pay and therefore divisible under the parties' divorce decree. Marsh contends that this issue presents a question of law. In his third point of error, Marsh argues alternatively that, if we determine the matter is a question of fact, then the court erred in failing to grant a new trial on the issue. We agree that whether the SSB payment was retirement pay is a legal issue for the court to determine. In any event, Marsh failed to support his third complaint with citation to any authority, and has therefore waived any error. See Tex.R.App. P. 74(f) (appellate brief must include discussion of the authorities relied upon to maintain the point at issue); see also D/FW Commercial Roofing Co. v. Mehra, 854 S.W.2d 182, 189 (Tex.App.--Dallas 1993), no writ; Helle v. Hightower, 735 S.W.2d 650, 654 (Tex.App.--Austin 1987, writ denied); Rayburn v. Giles, 182 S.W.2d 9, 14 (Tex.Civ.App.--San Antonio 1944, writ ref'd) (failure to cite to applicable authority in support of point of error constitutes waiver of the point). Therefore, we overrule point of error three.

The divorce decree awarded Wallace a portion of Marsh's "retirement pay." The trial court awarded Wallace part of the SSB payment in enforcement of this property division. Therefore, the narrow issue before this court is whether the trial court erred in concluding that Marsh's SSB lump sum payment constituted retirement pay under the terms of the decree. Marsh argues that SSB benefits are in the nature of gratuitous severance pay awarded as compensation for lost future earnings, not deferred pension pay compensation earned for past services. In reaching our decision, we conclude that the SSB payment Marsh received was in the nature of retirement pay, compensating him now for the retirement benefits he would have received in the future. This is a case of first impression in Texas.

In support of his position, Marsh analogizes SSB benefits paid under U.S.C. § 1174a to benefits paid under U.S.C. §§ 687, 1201 and 1174, benefits which all...

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11 cases
  • Marriage of Heupel, In re, 95SC754
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • April 21, 1997
    ...Kulscar v. Kulscar, 896 P.2d 1206 (Okl.Ct.App.1995); Fisher v. Fisher, 319 S.C. 500, 462 S.E.2d 303 (S.C.Ct.App.1995); Marsh v. Wallace, 924 S.W.2d 423 (Tex.Ct.App.1996); see also Chotiner v. Chotiner, 829 P.2d 829 (Alaska 1992) (holding that military severance pay that is part of a compens......
  • Kent v. Holmes, 06-03-00071-CV.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas
    • June 30, 2004 on funds received by Holmes as annuity payments in favor of the heirs under the estate until Holmes' death. Cf. Marsh v. Wallace, 924 S.W.2d 423, 424 n. 1 (Tex.App.-Austin 1996, no writ). We sustain the Kents' seventh point of Reformation of Contract In their fourth point of error, th......
  • Kent v. Holmes, No. 06-03-00071-CV (TX 6/9/2004), 06-03-00071-CV.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Texas
    • June 9, 2004 on funds received by Holmes as annuity payments in favor of the heirs under the estate until Holmes' death. Cf. Marsh v. Wallace, 924 S.W.2d 423, 424 n.1 (Tex. App.—Austin 1996, no writ). We sustain the Kents' seventh point of Reformation of Contract In their fourth point of error, th......
  • Boedeker v. Larson, Record No. 0900-04-1.
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • December 7, 2004
    ...twenty years of service would be wholly ineligible for retirement benefits. Bradley, supra, at 40 & n. 6; see Marsh v. Wallace, 924 S.W.2d 423, 426 (Tex.Ct.App.1996); see also Larry D. White, Note and Comment: The Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act: How Military Members are a......
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