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Spivey v. Spivey

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

April 5, 2017

SARAH SPIVEY Plaintiff-Appellee
v.
ALBERT SPIVEY Defendant-Appellant

         Appealed from the Twenty-Sixth Judicial District Court for the Parish of Bossier, Louisiana Lower Court Case No. 124, 222, Honorable Jefferson R. Thompson, Judge.

          SOCKRIDER, BOLIN, ANGLIN, BATTE & HATHAWAY, By: Gregory H. Batte, Counsel for Appellant.

          RONALD J. MICIOTTO, MARY T. AMARI, Counsel for Appellee.

          Before DREW, MOORE, and STONE, JJ.

          DREW, J.

         Albert Spivey appeals from a judgment finalizing the separation of community property incidental to his divorce from Sarah Spivey. We amend the judgment and, as amended, affirm.

         FACTS

         Sarah and Albert Spivey married in Monroe in May 1989; thereafter, they lived in Bossier Parish and had two children. They had a community property regime during the marriage. The Spiveys separated on August 3, 2007, and Sarah filed a petition for a La. C.C. art. 102 divorce on September 7, 2007. The trial court judge signed an order that same day. The order, among other things, terminated the community as of the date of filing.

         Child custody issues were subsequently resolved, and the divorce was finalized in 2013, leaving only a dispute about spousal support and the division of community property undecided. Sarah filed a petition to partition the community property in March 2013.

         On July 31, 2014, the parties appeared before the court to finally resolve the outstanding issues. At that hearing, Albert's attorney explained that it was the intent of the parties to resolve:

(1) a rule for back due spousal support and a related exception;
(2) a rule for permanent spousal support, and
(3) the community property issue.

         Albert agreed to pay Sarah $23, 000 at the rate of $1, 000 per month as a resolution of Sarah's claim for past due interim spousal support.

         Albert's lawyer further clarified:

This settlement eliminates those claims forever. In addition, it also - all rights, claims and/or causes of action for permanent periodic spousal support are forever waived and extinguished by this settlement . . . . And any future rule would be considered already dismissed with prejudice. And in addition to that, with regard to the assets of the community of acquets and gains, all assets held by either party shall remain in the full ownership of either party and any claims for reimbursement, any cross-claims of any nature are forever relinquished and disposed of.

         The remaining issue was the division of Albert's railroad retirement benefits. During the marriage, Albert was employed by Kansas City Southern Railroad ("KCS"), and while so employed, he accrued retirement benefits. These annuity benefits are administered by the federal U.S. Railroad Retirement Board (the "Board"), pursuant to 45 U.S.C. § 231, et seq., and that agency has regulations in place relating to the partition of such annuities in property settlements incidental to divorce. See 20 C.F.R. § 295 et seq. An important step in the partition process is the submission of a partition order to the Board.[1] Albert's counsel explained that the lawyers were going to prepare a court order harmonizing the federal rules with Louisiana's Sims v. Sims[2] formula for the partition of assets, with Sarah's counsel explaining:

[T]he intent is to follow whatever the Railroad Retirement Act provides in conjunction with whatever Louisiana law provides, whether it is defined benefit plan and/or the Sims formula using years of service versus years of marriage, and we'll prepare a court order or a decree separate from the judgment for the … qualified domestic relations order.

         Counsel further told the court that they would submit material[3] from the Board explaining the process along with the order, and Albert's counsel agreed to prepare the order. Albert testified that he agreed with the terms of the agreement as expressed in court and expressly agreed that ...


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