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Marriage of Stenquist

California Supreme Court
582 P.2d 96 (1978)


Mr. Stenquist (plaintiff) and Mrs. Stenquist (defendant) were married in 1950. Mr. Stenquist had served with the Army since 1944. In 1953, Mr. Stenquist became disabled as a result of a service injury. Mr. Stenquist had the option of leaving military service with a disability pay of 75 percent of his base pay as of 1953 based upon his rank at that time. Instead, Mr. Stenquist continued to serve actively until 1970, at which time Mr. Stenquist was eligible for either regular retirement at 65 percent of his base pay, determined by his rank and years of service as of 1970 or disability payments at 75 percent of his base pay as of 1970. Because Mr. Stenquist had achieved a higher rank and had more years of service, the actual value of Mr. Stenquist's 1970 base pay was significantly higher than in 1953. Mr. Stenquist chose disability payments at 75 percent of his base pay. In 1974, Mr. Stenquist filed for divorce. The trial court held that there was a community-property interest in a portion of Mr. Stenquist's disability payments. The trial court determined the proportion of community-property interest in Mr. Stenquist’s disability payments by applying the time-rule determination to the part of the payments that would have been earned under Mr. Stenquist’s 65 percent regular retirement pay. Mr. Stenquist appealed the trial court's decision.

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