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Marriage of Bergman

Court of Appeal of California
168 Cal. App. 3d 742 (1985)


Joan (plaintiff) and Elmer Bergman (defendant) were married in August 1959. Elmer was employed in federal civil service from 1961 until 1976. In 1976, Elmer became permanently disabled. As a result of his disability, Elmer began receiving a disability pension in 1976. Elmer would become eligible to receive longevity retirement in 1997, when he turned 62 years old. Joan was employed as a teacher during the marriage, and over the course of eight years, Joan made contributions to the California State Teachers’ Retirement system. The parties filed suit for dissolution of marriage. Experts testified regarding the value of Elmer’s pension plan and the probability that Elmer would receive those benefits. There was no evidence presented regarding the contributions Joan made to Joan’s retirement plan or the present value of Joan’s retirement plan. The trial court allocated Elmer’s pension plan using the cash-out method. The trial court determined the present value of the community-property interest in the pension plan and awarded the pension plan to Elmer. Then, in dividing the marital property, the trial court awarded Joan additional community property to account for her share of the community-property interest in Elmer’s pension plan. The trial court allocated Joan’s retirement using the in-kind method. The court also indicated that it would retain jurisdiction to conduct a division of the benefits between Elmer and Joan until Joan’s retirement benefits manifested. Elmer appealed the trial court’s ruling and challenged the method the trial court used in allocating Elmer’s pension plan.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (King, J.)

Concurrence (Haning, J.)

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