Ruggles v. Ruggles
Supreme Court of New Mexico
860 P.2d 182 (1993)
Nancy Ruggles (plaintiff) filed a petition against her ex-husband, Joseph Ruggles (defendant), alleging that the marital-settlement agreement (MSA) executed by the Ruggleses upon their divorce allowed Nancy to receive a monthly amount from Joseph’s fully vested and matured retirement plan, even though Joseph had not yet retired from his employer. Joseph disagreed and claimed that Nancy was not eligible to receive any benefits until Joseph actually retired. The trial court reviewed the MSA and concluded that, even though the MSA did not explicitly state when and how Nancy was to receive her interest in Joseph’s pension plan, the MSA was not ambiguous, and Nancy was entitled to receive $753.94 per month immediately. The trial court reasoned that the present value of Joseph’s pension benefits dropped each day before retirement, and thus, Nancy should not financially suffer as a result. Joseph appealed. The court of appeals interpreted the MSA differently and reversed. The court of appeals followed the New Mexico Supreme Court’s holding in Schweitzer v. Burch, 711 P.2d 889 (N.M. 1985), ruling that upon dissolution of marriage, retirement benefits in community property should be divided on a pay-as-it-comes-in basis, unless otherwise agreed by the parties. Therefore, the court of appeals mandated that Nancy was not entitled to Joseph’s retirement benefits until Joseph actually retired. The New Mexico Supreme Court granted certiorari to review.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Montgomery, J.)
What to do next…
Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.
You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 710,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Berkeley, and Northwestern—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students.Unlock this case briefRead our student testimonials
Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.
Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students.Learn about our approachRead more about Quimbee
Here's why 710,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:
- Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 44,600 briefs, keyed to 983 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
- The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
- Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
- Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.