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Howell v. Howell

137 S. Ct. 1400 (2017)

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Howell v. Howell

United States Supreme Court

137 S. Ct. 1400 (2017)

Facts

John Howell (plaintiff) was in the military when he divorced Sandra Howell (defendant). The decree awarded Sandra half of John’s future military retirement pay. After John retired in 1992, half his retirement pay went to Sandra for 13 years, until John elected to receive disability benefits. Doing so required him to waive an equivalent portion of his retirement pay, effectively reducing it by $125 a month. Sandra petitioned to enforce the original decree to continue receiving the amount she received before John elected disability benefits. The family court ordered John to continue paying half the amount that he received before electing disability benefits. John appealed, but the Arizona Supreme Court affirmed the family-court ruling, ordering John to reimburse Sandra for the amount of retirement pay he waived because he did so after the family court divided his retirement pay, not before. Noting a split among how state courts treated the issue, the Supreme Court granted John’s request for review.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Breyer, J.)

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