JACQUELINE MICKEY v. DARRELL D. MICKEY, SC 18126
Judicial District of Hartford
Dissolution of Marriage; Property Orders; Whether Portion of Defendant's Pension Benefit Attributable to Disability Sustained After Dissolution is Distributable to Plaintiff Under Terms of Dissolution Judgment. In 2001, the trial court dissolved the parties' marriage and issued various financial orders, including an order awarding the plaintiff forty percent of the defendant's monthly retirement benefit payment. At the time of the dissolution, the defendant was a state employee enrolled in a state employees' retirement system pension plan, which entitled him to receive certain retirement benefits upon reaching the age of sixty-five. In addition, the defendant was also potentially eligible for a disability retirement, which would entitle him to an increased pension benefit payable immediately if he were to be injured within the scope of his employment. After the court dissolved the parties' marriage, the defendant sustained a work-related injury, which caused him to take a disability retirement. Consequently, the defendant's gross monthly pension benefit increased, which in turn increased the amount that was distributed to the plaintiff from the defendant's pension. Thereafter, the defendant filed a motion for a clarification of the 2001 judgment. In particular, he asked the court to hold that it did not intend to, and did not have the statutory authority to, award the plaintiff the portion of his pension that was attributable to his post-dissolution disability. He claimed that since his disability occurred after the dissolution, the payments that he received because of that disability were not part of the marital estate that the court distributed in 2001. Moreover, he claimed that the disability payments represented lost income and wages rather than deferred compensation existing on the date of the dissolution. The trial court rejected the defendant's claims and denied his motion for a clarification. In so ruling, it determined that the defendant's disability benefits were "retirement benefits," and not "disability payments," which emanated from and replaced his regular pension. It therefore found that the defendant's disability benefits were not acquired after the date of the dissolution but were part of his monthly retirement benefits that were divided in the dissolution decree. It also determined that the language and intent of its orders distributing the defendant's pension benefit was clear and unambiguous. In this appeal, the Supreme Court will determine whether the trial court properly determined that the defendant's disability benefits are distributable to the plaintiff.