Sunday, December 8, 2013

Bender v. Bender case brief

Bender v. Bender case brief summary
785 A.2d 197 (2001)

Plaintiff wife brought an action for dissolution of a marriage. The superior court entered judgment dissolving the marriage and granting certain relief, including an award to the wife of one half the pension benefits earned by defendant husband. The husband appealed. The appellate court affirmed the superior court's judgment. The husband appealed.

The husband argued that the trial court improperly awarded the unvested pension benefits to the wife instead of utilizing the known present value of the contributions into the pension.

  • The supreme court concluded that the unvested pension benefits were property subject to equitable distribution. 
  • The court noted that the husband's expectation in his pension plan was sufficiently concrete, reasonable, and justifiable, as to constitute a presently existing property interest for equitable distribution purposes. 
  • The supreme court next addressed the methods available to value and distribute such benefits. 
  • The court concluded that it was within the trial court's discretion to choose among the present value method, present division method of deferred distribution, or any other valuation method that it deemed appropriate in accordance with Connecticut law. 
  • The supreme court expressly rejected the reserved jurisdiction method, as the statutory scheme regarding financial orders appurtenant to dissolution proceedings prohibited the retention of jurisdiction over orders regarding lump sum alimony or the division of the marital estate.
The judgment was affirmed.

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