Assigned on Briefs May 1, 2017
from the Circuit Court for Washington County No. 24931 J.
Eddie Lauderback, Judge
case involves the interpretation of a divorce judgment.
William August Lockler, III, and Pamela Michelle Barr Lockler
were married on January 3, 2002, and divorced on September 6,
2007. In its judgment, the original trial judge, the
Honorable Jean A. Stanley, ordered that "If [wife] is
entitled under federal law to receive any portion of
[husband's] military retirement benefits[, ] then she is
awarded one-half (1/2) of those benefits earned during the
parties' marriage." After husband retired from
military service in December 2014, wife filed a petition on
February 20, 2015 to reopen the divorce judgment. She sought
one-half of husband's military retirement that had
accrued during their marriage. The trial court granted
wife's petition, holding that Judge Stanley awarded wife
a portion of husband's military retirement benefits.
Husband appeals, arguing that wife is not entitled to a
portion of his benefits because she is only eligible to
receive the benefits under federal law and does not have a
right to them. We hold that the trial court
correctly concluded that the original trial judge intended to
award wife one-half of husband's military retirement that
accrued during their marriage. Accordingly, we affirm.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit
Court Affirmed; Case Remanded
F. Bloom, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, William
August Lockler, III.
Patrick B. Slaughter, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee,
Pamela Michelle Barr Lockler.
Charles D. Susano, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the
court, in which W. Neal McBrayer and Arnold B. Goldin, JJ.,
CHARLES D. SUSANO, JR., JUDGE
parties separated in October 2005. Husband later filed a
complaint for divorce. Wife answered and filed a
counterclaim. Wife later filed a Rule 9 suggestion of
equitable settlement, requesting one-half of husband's
military retirement that had accrued during their marriage.
Husband filed his own Rule 9 suggestion, asserting that he
and wife had not been married long enough for wife to receive
a portion of his military retirement and that he should be
able to retain his retirement pay free and clear of any claim
a hearing on September 6, 2007, Judge Stanley entered a
judgment on October 15, 2007. She granted the parties a
divorce and addressed issues pertaining to the parties'
child, alimony, attorney's fees, and a division of the
parties' property. As pertinent to the issue on appeal,
the judgment provides as follows:
If [wife] is entitled under federal law to receive any
portion of [husband's] military retirement benefits[, ]
then she is awarded one-half (1/2) of those benefits earned
during the parties' marriage.
retired from the Army in December 2014 after twenty-two years
and seven months of service. Wife then filed a petition on
February 20, 2015 to reopen the original judgment, seeking
one-half of husband's military retirement pay that
accrued during their marriage. Husband then answered,
asserting that wife was not entitled to any of his military
retirement under federal law. In a memorandum supporting her
claim, wife argued that the Uniformed Services Former
Spouses' Protection Act, 10 U.S.C. § 1408 (USFSPA)
allowed the division of military retirement pay as marital
property and that Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-4-121 and case
law allowed Judge Stanley to divide husband's military
retirement pay as a part of an equitable settlement of
marital property. Husband responded with his own memorandum,
asserting, among other things, that wife was
allowed, but not entitled, to receive a
portion of his military retirement pay under federal law.
J. Eddie Lauderback heard wife's petition and entered an
order granting wife's petition. Judge ...