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Reynolds v. Turull

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District, Butler

July 15, 2019

ELIZABETH S. REYNOLDS fka TURULL, Appellant,
v.
ROBERTO TURULL, Appellee.

          APPEAL FROM BUTLER COUNTY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS DOMESTIC RELATIONS DIVISION Case No. DR94-06-1088

          Thomas G. Eagle Co., L.P.A., Thomas G. Eagle, for appellant

          Rogers & Greenberg LLP, L. Anthony Lush, for appellee

          OPINION

          RINGLAND, J.

         {¶ 1} Appellant, Elizabeth Turull, appeals from the decision of the Butler County Court of Common Pleas, Domestic Relations Division, granting relief to cure an error contained in a Qualified Domestic Relations Order ("QDRO"), following her most recent divorce from appellee, Roberto Turull. For the reasons detailed below, we affirm.

         {¶ 2} Elizabeth and Roberto were first married in 1981 and later divorced in 1987. The parties remarried in 1988 only to again divorce in 1994. The Separation Agreement was signed by the parties on June 16, 1994. As it relates to Roberto's pension and retirement benefits:

The Wife shall be granted a Qualified Domestic Relations Order granting to her fifty percent (50%) of the portions of the Husband's Pension and 401(k) plans available through his place of employment, which accrued between the period of January 23, 1988 to May 31, 1994. This Qualified Domestic Relations Order is to be applied toward any pension, 401(k), employee savings plans, stock ownership plans, and any and all other such ERISA benefits or assets held through the Husband's place of employment.

         Jurisdiction was not reserved. In fact, the Separation Agreement stated "[i]t is hereby specifically agreed that the Court shall not reserve or retain jurisdiction over this matter unless specifically stated otherwise herein."

         {¶ 3} The QDRO was filed July 21, 1994 and signed by the trial court. Unfortunately, the QDRO incorrectly identified the year of marriage and inserted language that served to confuse the benefit award.

         {¶ 4} The QDRO was rejected by the plan administrator and an amended QDRO was filed with the trial court on August 3, 2006. The First Amended QDRO was also rejected by the plan administrator. Therefore, a Second Amended QDRO was filed with the trial court on November 13, 2006. However, the language contained in the Second Amended QDRO varied from the trial court's original order and enhanced the benefit for Elizabeth. The Second Amended QDRO stated:

The Plan Administrator of the Plan shall assign to the Alternate Payee the right to receive an amount equal to 50% of the "marital portion" of the Participant's benefit accrued as of the date Alternate Payee's benefit commences or as of Participant's retirement. For these purposes, the "marital portion" of the Participant's benefit is a fraction of the entire benefit, the numerator of which is the number of years of marriage, and the denominator of which is the number of years of continuous service as of May 31, 1994. The Participant and Alternate Payee were married from January 23, 1988 to May 31, 1994, the de facto termination of the marriage. The Alternate Payee is also entitled to 50% of the coverture fraction of Participant's early retirement supplement or subsidy, if any. The Alternate Payee shall receive and be eligible for a pro-rata share of any post-retirement enhancements to the Plan benefits.

(Emphasis added). Thus, the Second Amended QDRO changed the calculation of the benefit by changing the coverture fraction denominator to "number of continuous service as of May 31, 1994," instead of the total years of Roberto's employment. The Second Amended QDRO also added post-retirement enhancements and survivor benefits not addressed in the Separation Agreement or Decree.

         {¶ 5} Roberto filed a motion for relief from judgment under Civ.R. 60(B) along with a motion for clarification on October 6, 2017. In response, Elizabeth filed a motion to dismiss. The magistrate issued a decision granting Elizabeth's motion to dismiss. Roberto filed objections. The trial court sustained Roberto's objections and granted his request for relief under Civ.R. 60(B)(4) and (5). The trial court found that Roberto was entitled to relief to cure the unjust operation of the Second Amended QDRO. In this instance, the trial court found the Second Amended QDRO was inconsistent with the division of property ordered in the Judgment Entry and Final Decree of Dissolution of Marriage and, as such, operated as an improper modification of the final decree. Elizabeth now appeals, raising a single assignment of error for review:

         {¶ 6} THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN OVERRULING WIFE'S MOTION TO DISMISS AND ...


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