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In re Marriage of Sanders

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Second Division

September 20, 2016

In re MARRIAGE OF STELLA SANDERS, Petitioner-Appellant, and WILLIAM SANDERS, III, Respondent-Appellee.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, No. 91-D-02152; the Hon. Timothy P. Murphy, Judge, presiding.

         Affirmed.

          Barclay Law Group, P.C., of Chicago (Lester L. Barclay and Rafael Taylor, of counsel), for appellant.

          Appeal Bradford & Gordon, LLC, of Chicago (Mitchell B. Gordon and Maria A. Citino, of counsel), for appellee.

          JUSTICE PIERCE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Neville and Simon concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          PIERCE JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 Petitioner Stella Sanders appeals from the circuit court's order denying her motion to reconsider a prior order denying Stella's petition to recalculate her monthly benefits from her ex-husband's retirement fund. Stella argues the circuit court erred in denying her petition where a recalculation of her monthly benefits was warranted and the proper calculation is a "reserved jurisdiction approach" discussed in In re Marriage of Hunt, 78 Ill.App.3d 653 (1979) (Hunt formula). We affirm.

         ¶ 2 BACKGROUND

         ¶ 3 On August 31, 1994, the circuit court entered a judgment dissolving William and Stella Sanders's 26-year marriage. The judgment reserved the issue of the division of William's pension. On July 11, 1996, after a trial before Judge James G. Donegan, a supplemental judgment for dissolution was entered, finding the "pension of the Respondent through his employment with the United States Government is all marital property up until August 31, 1994, " and that:

"[t]he Petitioner is awarded one-half of [William's] pension benefits accrued as of August 31, 1994, said benefits to be divided pursuant to the same formula in assessing or ordering Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDRO), to wit: 50% of the accrued benefits for the period November 1, 1968 to August 31, 1994. Payment of said benefit shall commence when the pension goes into pay status."

         ¶ 4 In 2012, William retired from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) after 43 years of employment. William's pension is held by the Civil Service Retirement System and administered by the federal government's Office of Personnel Management (OPM). After his retirement, OPM sent William interim monthly annuity payments in the net amount of $3828.34 pending calculation of his full monthly benefits.

         ¶ 5 Sometime in 2012, Stella learned of William's retirement and "filed a request for the marital portion of the annuity payments" with the OPM. This request included a copy of the July 1996 court order. On September 6, 2012, OPM responded in a letter stating that "[b]y court order your marital share of your former spouse's retirement benefit is 50% of 322 months of service during the marriage divided by 532 months of Federal service or 30.26% of your spouse's retirement benefit. The marital share times your former spouse's gross annuity benefit of $8936 provides for a $2, 704.03 monthly payment to you." Beginning October 1, 2012, OPM issued Stella monthly distributions of $2, 704.03.

         ¶ 6 William requested an audit and review of the above calculations. On May 29, 2013, OPM issued a "Correction" stating:

"By court order your former spouse's marital share of your retirement benefit is 50% of 303 months of service during the marriage divided by 44 years 4 months of Federal service or 28.478% of your retirement benefit as of August 31, 1994. The marital shares times your gross annuity benefit of $3567 provides for a $1, 015.52 ...

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