Brooks v. Brooks, Ky COA, Division of Marital Property and Maintenance

Brooks v. Brooks

2010-CA-001720-MR

Published:  Affirming

County: Wolfe

Husband and Wife were married for twenty-one years, during which Husband earned his degree, teaching certificate, and Rank 1 teacher status, earning $44,000 annually at the time of divorce.  Husband and Wife married when Wife was pregnant at age 16 with their first child.  Wife never obtained finished high school and worked only six years at the beginning of the marriage as a nursing assistant; she was a homemaker and raised the parties’ children for the remainder of the marriage.  Husband’s retirement account with Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement Services (KTRS) was the only substantial assets of the parties.  FC awarded joint custody to the parties but named Husband as Primary Residential Custodian and ordered Wife to pay Husband child support until children graduated from high school (a total of nine months).  FC ordered Husband to pay Wife maintenance of$360 per month for two and a half years on the basis that this duration would provide Wife time to obtain her GED and job training.  FC gave one car to Wife and two cars to Husband, reasoning that Children needed the second car for transportation to and from school. Lastly, FC held that KTRS account was exempt from division.

CA held that, per KRS 161.700, KTRS accounts are nonmarital property unless the other spouse has a retirement account of her own, which would then trigger the provisions of KRS 403.190(4) allowing the retirement accounts to be equally offset from division.  Without the other retirement account, CA held that KRS 161.700 requires KTRS accounts to be classified as nonmarital property that cannot be divided, nor can such classification be treated as an “economic circumstance” to considered in division of marital property.  Thus, FC did not err in setting the KTRS account aside to Husband or in providing a disproportionate amount of marital estate to Wife. 

CA found no abuse of discretion in maintenance award nor did FC err in providing additional car to Husband for children’s use. 

Digested by Michelle Eisenmenger Mapes, Diana L. Skaggs + Associates