Gaylord E. SCHAUB, Appellant,
Theresa M. SCHAUB, Appellee.
Robert C. Erwin, Robert C. Erwin LLC, Anchorage, for Appellant.
Richard W. Postma, Jr., Law Offices of Dan Allan & Associates, Anchorage, for Appellee.
Before: CARPENETI, Chief Justice, FABE, WINFREE, and STOWERS, Justices, and EASTAUGH, Senior Justice.[*]
CARPENETI, Chief Justice.
A couple divorced in 1992. The divorce decree did not divide the parties' property. The man receives military retirement benefits from over 22 years of service in the United States military. In October 2010 the woman filed a motion seeking a post-decree equitable division of property. The man opposed, arguing that the woman's claim was barred by (1) the statute of limitations; (2) laches; and (3) estoppel. The superior court concluded that the woman could properly bring her motion, that her motion was not barred by the statute of limitations, and that laches barred only the retrospective division of the man's retirement benefits. The man appeals. Because the woman's claim was not barred by the statute of limitations, and because the superior court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that the woman was entitled to a prospective division of retirement benefits, we affirm the decision of the superior court in these respects. But because the court erred in setting the effective date of the property division, we remand with instructions to correct the effective date.
II. FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS
Gaylord " Hank" Schaub and Theresa Schaub married in May 1958 in Michigan. The parties subsequently moved to Alaska,
where they separated in 1986. Theresa moved to Florida in 1991. In June 1992, after living apart for approximately six years, Hank filed a petition to dissolve the marriage. In his petition, Hank stated that he did not know where Theresa was and had made " diligent efforts" to locate her. He also reported that he had " been unable to find out [Theresa's] position in regard to the dissolution of [the] marriage and the fair and just division of property (including retirement benefits)...."
In November 1992 the superior court entered a decree of dissolution of marriage. The superior court's decree stated:
FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW:
3. Petitioner has been unable to ascertain the other spouse's position in regard to the dissolution of their marriage and in regard to the fair and just division of property, including retirement benefits ... because the whereabouts of the other spouse is unknown to the petitioner after reasonable efforts have been made to locate the absent spouse.
THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED:
3. This decree does not bar future action on the issues not resolved in this decree.
Hank was in the United States military for over 22 years and has received $1,471.00 per month from a military pension since sometime in either 2002 or 2003. Theresa worked for the Anchorage School District for ...