Court No. 15DR001B
Kristopher K. Hill and Thomas J. DeBacco, for appellant.
Michelle L. Christie, for appellee.
DECISION AND JUDGMENT
1} Appellant, Debbra Hahn, appeals from a judgment
of the Ottawa County Court of Common Pleas in which the court
granted a divorce and awarded her spousal support. For the
reasons that follow, we affirm, in part, and reverse, in
part, and remand for the trial court to modify its judgment.
2} Appellant sets forth the following assignment of
I. The trial court abused its discretion in adopting the
Appellee's argument regarding spousal support and
division of benefits.
3} This matter arises from a final judgment of
divorce issued on October 21, 2016. The parties married on
May 22, 1993, and separated on December 1, 2014. The parties
had no children during the marriage.
4} At the time of divorce, appellant was age 64 and
appellee was age 65. Since 1999, appellant has been on
disability and unable to work as a result of a heart
condition. Appellee financially supported her during the
5} Appellee is a financial advisor and insurance
agent, and the record reflects his income comes from three
sources, including a Prudential pension plan ("the
plan"). Appellant testified the plan was started in
2010. The monthly distribution from the plan was $2, 490,
until December 2016, at which point the amount would change
to $1, 694. Appellee testified that he made the plan "a
hundred percent spousal benefit, " so that appellant
would receive payment in the event of his death.
6} Prior to trial, the parties entered into a
voluntary agreement, which was read into the record. The
agreement, as read into the record, was clear with regard to
all aspects of the parties' voluntary property division,
with the exception of confusion about the spousal support
7} The record, in pertinent part, reflects as
Appellee's counsel: Last, but not least,
Your Honor, is the issue of spousal support. I will say we
got a little creative with this because of several issues and
retirement plans and everything else, but until the house is
sold, the defendant [appellee] will pay to plaintiff
[appellant] the amount of $2, 000 per month.
We also talked about the sum that plaintiff will pay
direct-will be paid directly from defendant, the pension plan
amount, and, again, that changes in December 2016. We will
not be utilizing a Q.D.R.O and defendant has agreed that he
will pay plaintiff that sum by the 15th of each month.
Upon the sale of the [marital] residence, the parties have
agreed that the spousal support will be the sum of $2, 700
per month and that award of spousal support will go until the
defendant reaches the age of 71. * * *
Appellant's counsel: Your Honor, the
only thing I would add, just for clarification purposes, is
that the pension, it appears that the number would be $1, 245
per month until December of next year, at which point it
would change to $847. * * *
8} After the agreement was read into the record, the
court stated that the parties had seven days to prepare a
proposed judgment entry reflecting the agreement. On January
19, 2016, appellee moved the court for approval of his
proposed judgment entry. Two days later, appellant submitted
her proposed judgment entry. The proposed entries differed
with regard to the amount of spousal support awarded.
9} Appellant's position was that the monthly
spousal support award of $2, 000 (eventually $2, 700), should
not have included the plan's monthly pension distribution
of $1, 245 (eventually $847). Appellee countered that the
plan's monthly pension distribution should be included in
the monthly spousal support award. The court set the matter
for a hearing.
10} At the hearing, the magistrate found that the
sole issue was whether there was mutual assent among the
parties when entering the agreement. After the parties
testified to his and her understanding of the agreement, the
court requested the parties brief the matter. Despite
requesting briefs, the court made note that the ultimate
determination regarding "distribution of property and
spousal support" was ...