Vera Gillmore (plaintiff) and Earl Gillmore (defendant) were married for a number of years, during which Earl was employed with the Pacific Telephone Company and participated in its employee retirement program. Vera and Earl were divorced in January of 1979, and the trial court retained jurisdiction over Earl's retirement pension, finding that Earl had a vested retirement pension and that his benefits would mature when he became eligible for retirement in April 1979. When April 1979 arrived, Earl continued to work and represented that he intended to continue working for as many more years as he was able. Earl's retirement pension provided no survivorship benefits and would cease upon Earl's death. In July of 1979, Vera petitioned the trial court to have Earl pay her the share of retirement benefits that Vera would have received if Earl had retired when he became eligible in April. The trial court declined to impose payments until Earl retired. Vera appealed the trial court's decision.