FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS COUNTY OF
LORAIN, OHIO CASE No. 17DU083033
R. NICOL, Attorney at Law, for Appellant.
ZALIC, Attorney at Law, for Appellee.
DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY
JENNIFER HENSAL, JUDGE.
Wesley Noble appeals a judgment entry of divorce of the
Lorain County Court of Common Pleas, Domestic Relations
Division. For the following reasons, this Court affirms in
part and reverses in part.
The Nobles divorced after 40 years of marriage. During the
marriage, they adopted one of their grandchildren, who was
still a minor at the time of the divorce. They owned one
property in Ohio and one in Alabama. Wife had not worked in
many years because of medical conditions. Husband had worked
at a steel plant since before the marriage but had retired in
recent years. At the time of the divorce, Wife was living in
the marital home in Ohio and Husband was living in a dwelling
that was on land that his family owned in Alabama.
The trial court generally ordered an equal division of the
parties' assets. It found, however, that Husband was
unable to completely explain how he had spent over $225, 000
from his investment account. It also noted that Husband
failed to produce any information about one of his bank
accounts. It, therefore, did not require Wife to pay Husband
for his one-half interest in the marital home. For spousal
support, instead of requiring Husband to make payments to
Wife, it awarded her one-half of Husband's pre-marital
pension benefits. It also ordered Husband to pay all of
Wife's attorney fees. Husband has appealed, assigning
OF ERROR I
TRIAL COURT ABUSED ITS DISCRETION IN ORDERING THE DIVISION OF
THE HUSBAND'S SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS.
Husband argues that the trial court incorrectly ordered him
to prepare a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO)
"that awards one-half of the entire portion of his
social security benefits to [Wife] * * * offset by
[Wife's] social security benefits." The United
States Code provides that Social Security benefits
"shall not * * * be subject to execution, levy,
attachment, garnishment, or other legal process * * *."
42 U.S.C. 407(a). In light of that language, the Ohio Supreme
Court has recognized that "Social Security benefits * *
* are not subject to division in a divorce proceeding."
Neville v. Neville, 99 Ohio St.3d 275,
2003-Ohio-3624, ¶ 8. Instead, they may only "be
considered by the trial court under the catchall category as
a relevant and equitable factor in making an equitable
distribution." Id. at ¶ 11; see
Upon review of the record, we conclude that the trial court
improperly ordered Husband to prepare a QDRO that would award
part of his Social Security benefits to Wife. ...