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In re Marriage of Robinson

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Fourth Division

May 14, 2015

In re MARRIAGE OF MALETA ROBINSON, f/k/a Maleta Marrionneaux-Willis, Petitioner-Appellee, and DEANGELO M. WILLIS, Respondent-Appellant,

Page 261

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 11 D 10726. Honorable Mark J. Lopez, Judge Presiding.

APPELLANTS: Sharon M. Kadas, The Law Office of Sharon M. Kadas, LLC.

JUSTICE ELLIS delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Howse and Cobbs concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

ELLIS, J.

Page 262

[¶1] In this appeal, we are called upon to address the applicability of the Federal Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act (FUSFSPA) (10 U.S.C. § 1408 (2006)) to the modification of an out-of-state divorce judgment dividing a former military member's pension. Petitioner Maleta Robinson (Maleta) and respondent DeAngelo M. Willis (DeAngelo), a former member of the United States Marine Corps, divorced in Michigan in 2009. As part of the consent judgment entered by the Michigan court, Maleta received 25% of DeAngelo's military pension. Maleta then moved to Illinois and sought to register the Michigan judgment in Cook County. After DeAngelo did not appear in Cook County, the circuit court registered the Michigan order and entered an order dividing DeAngelo's military retirement pay. DeAngelo filed a motion to vacate that order, alleging that the Illinois circuit court lacked personal jurisdiction over him. The circuit court denied DeAngelo's motion and entered another order dividing DeAngelo's pension.

[¶2] DeAngelo appeals, asserting that the Illinois circuit court lacked personal jurisdiction to divide his pension under FUSFSPA, which empowers state courts to divide military retirement pay in divorce proceedings. We agree that FUSFSPA applied to the circuit court's actions in this case and that the trial court erred in determining that DeAngelo consented to personal jurisdiction. We vacate the trial court's order dividing DeAngelo's military pension and remand for an evidentiary hearing to determine whether DeAngelo was a resident or domiciliary of Illinois under FUSFSPA.

[¶3] I. BACKGROUND

[¶4] Maleta and DeAngelo married in 1990 and had three children. They resided together in Macomb, Michigan, during their marriage. DeAngelo filed for divorce in 2007 in Michigan.

[¶5] On January 21, 2009, the circuit court of Macomb County, Michigan, entered a consent judgment of divorce. As part of that judgment, the Michigan court awarded Maleta 25% " of the marital portion of [DeAngelo's] military pension and retirement benefits." (Emphasis in original.) The court defined " [t]he marital portion *** as the portion of benefits accumulated from the date of the marriage until the entry of this Judgment."

[¶6] After the judgment was entered, Maleta moved to Chicago with their two younger children, while DeAngelo moved to Virginia with their oldest child. On June 1, 2010, DeAngelo retired from active duty and began to collect his military pension. In the same month, DeAngelo moved to Georgia.

[¶7] On November 7, 2011, Maleta filed a petition to register the Michigan judgment in the circuit court of Cook County. Maleta asserted that neither she nor DeAngelo resided in Michigan and asked that the Michigan judgment be registered in Illinois " for the purposes of enforcement." Maleta served DeAngelo with the petition.

[¶8] On September 25, 2012, while her request to register the Michigan judgment was still pending, Maleta moved for a rule to show cause and sanctions, alleging that DeAngelo failed to comply with the Michigan court's order regarding his military pension. Maleta stated that DeAngelo had refused to pay her the 25% share of his pension as required by the Michigan divorce judgment. Maleta asked that the Illinois circuit court require DeAngelo to pay her the " 25% share of all his monthly pension benefits" and 9% interest.

Page 263

[¶9] Although he had been served, DeAngelo did not appear to contest the registration of the Michigan judgment or file a responsive pleading to Maleta's motion. Accordingly, on October 2, 2012, the court granted ...


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