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Cases of Interest: Pensions
National Legal Research Group, Inc.

ALASKA: Williams v. Crawford, No. S-9791 (Alaska Feb. 8, 2002).
The couple here divorced in April 1992. The wife remarried shortly thereafter. On August 12, 1992, the husband and the wife entered into a property settlement agreement, which was incorporated into the divorce decree. Paragraph Seven of the agreement stated:
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ALASKA: Williams v. Crawford, 982 P.2d 250 (Alaska 1999).
A property distribution agreement obligated the husband to name the wife as recipient of a civil service pension's survivorship benefits; it did not entitle the wife to a guaranteed annuity in an amount she would have received had she remained statutorily eligible for survivorship benefits.
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ALASKA: Dodson v. Dodson, 955 P.2d 902 (Alaska 1998).
The trial court did not err when it discounted the value of a 401(k) plan to account for taxes that the wife would have to pay before she could use the plan's funds.
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ARKANSAS: Skelton v. Skelton, ___ Ark. ___, 5 S.W.3d 2 (1999).
The husband's firefighter pension fund was a property interest during the marriage, subject to equitable distribution, while his disability benefits were not subject to equitable distribution.
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CALIFORNIA: In re Marriage of Oddino, ___ Cal. ___, 65 Cal. Rptr. 2d 566, 939 P.2d 1266 (1997).
State and federal courts have concurrent jurisdiction to decide whether a state court's order assigning retirement benefits to the nonemployee spouse is a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO); an order does not qualify as a QDRO if it requires the retirement plan to pay the nonemployee spouse a portion of the employee spouse's early retirement benefits without any actuarial reduction, where the employee spouse is eligible for such unreduced benefits upon early retirement but has not yet retired.
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CALIFORNIA: In re Marriage of Lehman, ___ Cal. 4th ___, 955 P.2d 451 (1998).
A nonemployee spouse who owns a community property interest in an employee spouse's retirement benefits under a defined benefit plan owns a community property interest in the retirement benefits as enhanced by early retirement incentives offered after the dissolution of the parties' marriage.
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COLORADO: In re Marriage of Riley-Cunningham, 7 P.3d 992 (Colo. Ct. App. 2000).
Could the trial court use the net present-value method to distribute a military pension?
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CONNECTICUT: Krafick v. Krafick, 234 Conn. 783, 663 A.2d 365 (1995).
The wife worked as an assistant director in the Danbury welfare department, while the husband worked as a public school teacher. The sole issue presented on appeal was whether vested pension benefits constitute property for purposes of equitable distribution.
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FLORIDA: Williams v. Williams, 766 So. 2d 1127 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2000).
The temporary award of the marital home to the wife was an abuse of discretion.
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FLORIDA: Bain v. Bain, 687 So. 2d 79 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1997).
Where the husband's pension had been awarded to him as equitable distribution, the trial court erred in considering the pension as a source from which alimony should be paid, except for the amount of payments attributable to postdissolution contributions.
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FLORIDA: Beasley v. Beasley, 717 So. 2d 208 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1998).
When dividing the husband's pension at the end of the parties' second marriage to each other, the trial court had discretion to include both marriages in its computation of the wife's share of the pension.
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FLORIDA: Boyett v. Boyett, 703 So. 2d 451 (Fla. 1997).
The valuation of a vested retirement plan must not include any contributions made after the judgment of dissolution.
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ILLINOIS: In re Marriage of Wisniewski, ___ Ill. App. 3d ___, 675 N.E.2d 1362 (1997).
The trial court did not abuse its discretion by using the husband's salary at the time of his retirement in 1994 to determine the marital share of his pension, despite his claim that this approach improperly allowed the wife to share in the increase in value of his pension after the parties' 1981 divorce.
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INDIANA: Tracy v. Tracy, 717 N.E.2d 183 (Ind. Ct. App. 1999).
Pension benefits are marital property subject to equitable distribution where the benefits are not forfeited at the termination of employment or are vested and payable either before or after the dissolution.
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INDIANA: Hodowal v. Hodowal, 627 N.E.2d 869 (Ind. Ct. App. 1994).
An early retirement subsidy benefit which was available only if the husband remained employed with the same company nine more years was not marital property subject to division.
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INDIANA: Paxton v. Paxton, 709 N.E.2d 31 (Ind. Ct. App. 1999).
The husband should receive as his share of the wife's IRA not only the amount awarded to him in the parties' dissolution decree but also the proportionate increase in value of his share of the IRA from the decree until payment.
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KANSAS: In re Marriage of Brane, ___ Kan. App. 2d ___, 908 P.2d 625 (1995).
The antiassignment statute of the Social Security Act does not prohibit the trial court from considering Social Security income when dividing the marital estate in a divorce action.
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LOUISIANA: Blanchard v. Blanchard, 731 So. 2d 175 (La. 1999).
The trial court's property division awarding the wife her unmatured pension and awarding the husband the marital home was not equitable and must be reconsidered.
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MAINE: Greenwood v. Greenwood, 746 A.2d 358 (Me. 2000).
A provision that stated that the wife was entitled to 50% of the marital component of the husband's pension was ambiguous and subject to clarification, since it could be read to require either an immediate lump-sum payment to the wife or a payment at a later date.
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MICHIGAN: McNamara v. McNamara, 249 Mich. App. 177, 642 N.W.2d 385 (2002).
The trial court erred by treating a pension earned during the marriage as income rather than as divisible property. Where the evidence did not permit the court to segregate passive income from the premarital balance in a defined contribution pension plan, it was not error to treat the entire growth in the value of the plan during the marriage as a divisible asset.
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MICHIGAN: Quade v. Quade, ___ Mich. App. ___, 604 N.W.2d 778 (1999).
The couple's QDRO transferred 50% of the husband's pension but did not include any language that would have granted the wife a share of the husband's early retirement benefits.
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MISSISSIPPI: Graham v. Graham, 767 So. 2d 277 (Miss. Ct. App. 2000).
The division of the husband's and the wife's retirement accounts for the purposes of equitable distribution should be based on their value at the time of the divorce, not at the time of separation.
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MISSISSIPPI: Godwin v. Godwin, 758 So. 2d 384 (Miss. 1999).
The husband contributed to a deferred compensation plan for several years after an order for separate maintenance. The court held that this plan was his separate property upon divorce. The wife had not contributed to the plan.
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MISSISSIPPI: Prescott v. Prescott, 736 So. 2d 409 (Miss. Ct. App. 1999).
The valuation of retirement benefits should take into account the period of the marriage. Only part of the retirement funds are marital property since the marriage covered only part of the employment period.
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MISSISSIPPI: Savelle v. Savelle, 650 So. 2d 476 (Miss. 1995).
Mississippi law governed the equitable distribution of the husband's pension in Mississippi divorce proceedings, even though he had acquired the pension in Louisiana.
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MISSOURI: In re Marriage of Beeler, 26 S.W.3d 610 (Mo. Ct. App. 2000).
A value had to be placed on the husband's pension plan, where the wife received a percentage of the pension plan.
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MISSOURI: Ansley v. Ansley, 15 S.W.3d 28 (Mo. Ct. App. 2000).
The evidence in the case supported the finding that the Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) were the husband's nonmarital property.
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MISSOURI: Williams v. Williams, 17 S.W.3d 559 (Mo. Ct. App. 1999).
Should the wife, designated as a beneficiary of the husband's benefit option of his pension, bear the entire cost of the option?
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MISSOURI: DeMayo v. DeMayo, 9 S.W.3d 736 (Mo. Ct. App. 2000).
The findings of the circuit court required reversal since consideration of the wife's retirement fund from teaching materially affected the division of marital property. In addition, the wife had failed to rebut the presumption that the couple's house was marital property.
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MISSOURI: Silcox v. Silcox, 6 S.W.3d 899 (Mo. 1999).
A statute requiring a public school teacher's retirement benefits to be treated as nonmarital property in the marital dissolution proceedings did not conflict with another statute that created the presumption that all property acquired during a marriage be treated as marital property.
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MISSOURI: Gendron v. Gendron, 996 S.W.2d 668 (Mo. Ct. App. 1999).
The wife was entitled to a fraction of the husband's military retirement pension that was equal to the amount accrued during the marriage.
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MONTANA: In re Marriage of Pfennigs, ___ Mont. ___, 989 P.2d 327 (1999).
The couple's property settlement agreement clearly and unambiguously entitled the wife to 50% of the husband's retirement benefits valued as of the date of the husband's retirement rather than the date of the execution of the agreement.
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MONTANA: In re Marriage of Meeks, ___ Mont. ___, 915 P.2d 851 (1996).
The husband's accrued vacation and sick leave was not a distinct marital asset, but should be added, as per his pension plan, to his term of service for purposes of calculating his pension benefits.
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NEBRASKA: Koziol v. Koziol, 10 Neb. App. 675, 2001.NE.0000427 (Dec. 11, 2001).
The husband argued that a court can only divide the "marital value" of the pension, and that a supplemental order changed the distribution of the pension. In this case, the couple married in July of 1973. Throughout the marriage, the husband was employed full-time by the Omaha Fire Department.
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NEW JERSEY: LaSalla v. LaSalla, ___ N.J. Super. ___, 735 A.2d 52 (Ch. Div. 1999).
The husband's pension as a police officer was subject to equitable distribution, but only to the portion acquired during the marriage.
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NEW JERSEY: L.M. v. State, Division of Medical Assistance & Health Services, 40 N.J. 480, 659 A.2d 450 (1995).
Pension benefits transferred by the husband to the wife in the parties' divorce proceeding could not be considered income for the purpose of determining his Medicaid eligibility, even though the husband's guardian had sought the divorce and transferred the pension rights for the purpose of avoiding Medicaid income limits.
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NEW JERSEY: White v. White, 284 N.J. Super. 300, 664 A.2d 1297 (Ch. Div. 1995).
The husband, a federal employee who had not participated in Social Security, should receive an offset for the wife's Social Security when she begins receiving those benefits.
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NEW JERSEY: Johnson v. Johnson, 320 N.J. Super. 371, 727 A.2d 473 (App. Div. 1999).
A provision in the parties' divorce judgment that required payment of attorney's fees from the husband's pension fund constituted an assignment of benefits expressly prohibited by federal law.
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NEW JERSEY: Reinbold v. Reinbold, 311 N.J. Super. 460, 710 A.2d 556 (App. Div. 1998).
The enhanced value of the husband's pension as increased by early retirement incentives was distributable property under the parties' property settlement agreement.
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NEW MEXICO: Barnes v. Shoemaker, ___ N.M. ___, 868 P.2d 1284 (Ct. App. 1994).
Modification of an order distributing retirement benefits is improper, even though the original order was based on erroneous projections, since there was no evidence that the error was the result of a postdecree event or otherwise could not have been anticipated.
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NEW YORK: Allwell v. Allwell, ___ A.D.2d ___, 716 N.Y.S.2d 741 (2000).
The husband claimed that part of his pension represented compensation for personal injuries and thus was not subject to equitable distribution in its entirety.
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NEW YORK: Murphy v. Murphy, ___ A.D.2d ___, 693 N.Y.S.2d 699 (1999).
An award to the wife of 60% of the portion of the husband's pension plan that the parties agreed was marital property was not an abuse of discretion.
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NEW YORK: Reinheimer v. Reinheimer, ___ A.D.2d ___, 694 N.Y.S.2d 106 (1999).
Evidence concerning the husband's dates of employment supported the trial court's finding as to which multiplier to use in calculating his pension.
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NEW YORK: Zollner v. Zollner, ___ A.D.2d ___, 692 N.Y.S.2d 711 (1999).
The wife was barred from seeking equitable distribution of the husband's pension, where the husband did not opt to exercise his rights under the plan.
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NEW YORK: Mattwell v. Mattwell, ___ A.D.2d ___, 600 N.Y.S.2d 98 (1993).
In dissolution of parties' long-term marriage, wife should not be awarded a greater share of marital property merely because she had been a long-term economic success and husband had been a relative economic failure.
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NORTH CAROLINA: Hamby v. Hamby, No. COA00-151 (N.C. Ct. App. June 5, 2001).
The husband contended that his insurance agency and the deferred compensation plans therefrom were improperly valued and distributed.
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NORTH CAROLINA: Anderson v. Anderson, No. COA00-1008 (N.C. Ct. App. Aug. 7, 2001).
The wife appealed an order for summary judgment granted in favor of the husband on the wife's claim for an equitable distribution of the husband's military retirement pension. In this case, the couple married in January 1987.
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NORTH DAKOTA: Moilan v. Moilan, 598 N.W.2d 81 (N.D 1999).
The valuation of retirement benefits must be considered at present value, and the division of such benefits at the time of the divorce is the preferable course.
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NORTH DAKOTA: Nelson v. Nelson, 584 N.W.2d 527 (N.D. 1998).
When the husband and wife remarried each other after their first divorce, all of their assets became marital property, and when they divorced for the second time all of their time together should have been considered in the property division.
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OHIO: Vaughan v. Vaughan, 131 Ohio App. 3d 364, 722 N.E.2d 578 (1999).
The wife's award of one-half interest in the husband's pension and one-half interest in the husband's deferred compensation was not "debt" for purposes of determining its dischargeability in bankruptcy.
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OHIO: Coats v. Coats, 63 Ohio Misc. 2d 299, 626 N.E.2d 707 (C.P. 1993).
A portion of spouse's civil service pension should not be exempted from the marital estate to the extent that it is in lieu of Social Security benefits, but an offset for the value of the other spouse's Social Security benefits may be equitable in some cases.
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OHIO: Walker v. Walker, 112 Ohio App. 3d 90, 677 N.E.2d 1252 (1996).
Hypothetical Social Security credits were properly deducted from the value of the husband's postal service pension, where equivalent sums had been deducted from his earnings and from his employer and credited to his pension plan in lieu of Social Security contributions.
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OREGON: In re Marriage of Drews, 153 Or. App. 126, 956 P.2d 246 (1996).
The trial court did not err in discounting the value of the husband's retirement accounts by 40% for future income tax liability.
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PENNSYLVANIA: McClain v. McClain, ___ Pa. Super. ___, 693 A.2d 1355 (1997).
Hypothetical Social Security contributions should not be deducted from the value of the husband's postal service pension where the wife had no appreciable Social Security benefits of her own.
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RHODE ISLAND: Janson v. Janson, No. 99-490 (R.I. June 25, 2001).
The wife appealed from the denial of her motion to obtain a share of the pension benefits available to the husband and from the denial of an entry of a QDRO.
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RHODE ISLAND: Schaffner v. Schaffner, 713 A.2d 1245 (R.I. 1998).
The husband's federal civil service pension should be valued without deducting the hypothetical amount of Social Security benefits he would receive if he had participated in the Social Security system.
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RHODE ISLAND: Allard v. Allard, 708 A.2d 554 (R.I. 1998).
The portion of a spouse's disability pension attributable to retirement pay is marital property and is not statutorily exempt from equitable distribution.
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SOUTH DAKOTA: Feldhaus v. Feldhaus, 646 N.W.2d 753 (S.D. 2002).
The trial court did not err in awarding the husband 54% of the marital estate. He was age 61, retired, and in poor health, while the wife was age 53, still employed, and in good health. In addition, the husband's major asset was his retirement plan, which had no immediate cash value.
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TENNESSEE: Cohen v. Cohen, 937 S.W.2d 823 (Tenn. 1996).
Nonvested pension rights which accrue during marriage constitute marital property and may be divided through the present cash value method or the deferred distribution method.
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TENNESSEE: Kendrick v. Kendrick, 902 S.W.2d 918 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1994).
At the time of divorce, the husband had attained the rank of technical sergeant and had decided to make the Air Force his career. The husband's military pension was, however, unvested at that point.
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VIRGINIA: Torian v. Torian, 38 Va. App. 167, 562 S.E.2d 355 (2002).
A spouse who seeks the division of retirement benefits by an immediate offset bears the burden of introducing credible evidence of the present value of the benefits. Absent such evidence, the plan should be divided by deferred distribution.
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VIRGINIA: Moreno v. Moreno, 24 Va. App. 190, 480 S.E.2d 702 (1997).
The income received by the husband from his share of the distribution of his pension could be considered as a resource when determining the amount of his spousal support obligation, and the wife's income from her share of the pension should be considered as a resource of hers in determining her need for support.
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VIRGINIA: Nicholson v. Nicholson, ___ Va. App. ___, 463 S.E.2d 334 (1995).
The parties' property settlement agreement, in which the wife relinquished and released all rights in the husband's property, did not constitute an express waiver of her right to a share of his foreign service retirement annuity.
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VIRGINIA: Moran v. Moran, 29 Va. App. 408, 512 S.E.2d 834 (1999).
The husband should been awarded the passive increase in value on his premarital investment in his employer's defined contribution pension plan.
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WASHINGTON: MacGibbon v. MacGibbon, No. 46304-7-I, 2001.WA.0001755 (Wash. Ct. App. Dec. 10, 2001).
The husband argued that the lower court erred in valuing his pension, 401(k), IRA, and other property. The couple was married in 1979. They had six children. The husband was a pilot, who flew first for Flying Tiger Airlines and then Federal Express, after the merger of Flying Tiger and Federal Express.
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WASHINGTON: In re Marriage of Moore, ___ Wash. App. ___, 993 P.2d 271 (1999).
Dissolution decree awarding one-half of the community interest in a pension to be disbursed in the future created a property interest in the pension, not a lien against the pension, such that the wife was entitled to the disbursement value of her share at the time of distribution rather than its value at the time of the decree.
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WASHINGTON: Greene v. Greene, ___ Wash. App. ___, 986 P.2d 144 (1999).
The trial court erroneously awarded the wife percentage increases in the husband's military pension attributable solely to the husband's additional service.
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WASHINGTON: In re Marriage of Jennings, ___ Wash. 2d ___, 980 P.2d 1248 (1999).
The reduction of the husband's military retirement benefits was an extraordinary circumstance justifying the reopening of the couple's dissolution decree.
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WEST VIRGINIA: Stanley v. Stanley, ___ W. Va. ___, 495 S.E.2d 273 (1997).
The parties' divorce decree should be set aside due to a mistake in valuation of the husband's pension plan.
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WISCONSIN: Preiss v. Preiss, ___ Wis. 2d ___, 617 N.W.2d 514 (Ct. App. 2000).
The division of the husband's pension plan as of the date of retirement, rather than as of the date of divorce, was warranted. On the other hand, the inclusion of the value of the husband's accumulated sick leave as an asset of the marital estate was error.
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WISCONSIN: Olski v. Olski, ___ Wis. 2d ___, 540 N.W.2d 412 (Ct. App. 1995).
The portion of a former spouse's pension attributable to postdivorce employment, and therefore not subject to division as marital property at divorce, may be treated as income for postdivorce maintenance obligations.
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WISCONSIN: Seidlitz v. Seidlitz, ___ Wis. 2d ___, 578 N.W.2d 638 (Ct. App. 1998).
When ruling on the husband's motion to modify maintenance, the trial court properly refused to consider the wife's income from the husband's pension which had previously been awarded to her in the parties' property division.
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