Susan W. Jennings, Plaintiff-Appellee,
Joseph A. Jennings, III, Defendant-Appellant.
from the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, C.P.C. No.
14DR-4237 Division of Domestic Relations
S. Piper, Co. L.PA., and Brian S. Piper, for appellee.
Ross; Percy Squire, for appellant.
1} Defendant-appellant, Joseph A. Jennings, III,
appeals the September 23, 2016 judgment entry-decree of
divorce ("decree") of the Franklin County Court of
Common Pleas, Division of Domestic Relations. For the
following reasons, we affirm.
Facts and Procedural History
2} The parties married on December 26, 1982. On
November 19, 2014, plaintiff-appellee, Susan W. Jennings,
filed a complaint for divorce. The parties agreed to and
approved a settlement memorandum. The court signed and filed
the same on June 1, 2016. The settlement memorandum resolved
many of the issues related to the divorce, including issues
relating to the division of property; however, the parties
could not resolve the issues of spousal support, attorney
fees, court costs, and expense money.
3} A trial was held to resolve these remaining
issues on May 26, June 24, August 1, and August 8, 2016. On
September 23, 2016, the court filed the decree.
4} Regarding spousal support, the court conducted an
analysis pursuant to R.C. 3105.18. As relevant to this
appeal, the court considered the income of the parties from
all sources for the years 2014, 2015, and 2016,
including appellant's "non-taxable VA
benefits." (Decree at 4.) The court found appellant was
currently receiving $1, 991 per month of non-taxable
Veteran's Administration ("VA") benefits. The
court ordered appellant to pay permanent spousal support in
the amount of $1, 000 per month commencing April 21, 2015 to
be reduced to $750 per month commencing June 15, 2016.
5} The court also found that appellant was receiving
as a component of his VA benefit, "due to his having a
spousal dependent, " $145 per month, but that no portion
of that allowance had been shared with appellee. (Decree at
12.) The court noted appellant had been receiving the same
benefit in prior years but the value was unknown as the
current amount included cost-of-living allowance increases.
The court determined, based on the current value, that
appellant has received $1, 740 per year due to having a
spouse. The court found, on the issue of an expense money
award, that appellant retained a total of $4, 350 of this
portion of his VA benefit in the 30 months since the parties
separated in January 2013.
6} Regarding appellee's request for attorney
fees and court costs, the court made the following finding:
The Court finds that Defendant has prolonged this litigation
and ultimately forced the case to trial due to his dogged
refusal to have his Veteran's Benefits included in the
consideration of spousal support despite the dictates of R.C.
§ 3105.18(C)(1)(a), and Ohio case law (See Cardone
v. Cardone, 1998 WL 224934, 9th Dist. Court of Appeals,
Summit County). Defendant failed to grasp the fact that all
monies that are received in the home is compensation to be
considered and all monies that are received during the
marriage from all sources is marital. Defendant repeatedly
referred to the Veteran's Benefits he received
"that's my money." His characterization of the
benefits as his money and his refusal to understand that
although non-taxable, the ...