from the Superior Court No. 1JU-13-00757 CI of the State of
Alaska, First Judicial District, Juneau, Louis J. Menendez,
Faris, pro se, Portland, Oregon, and Fred W. Triem,
Petersburg, for Appellant.
H. Grant, Juneau, for Appellee.
Before: Bolger, Chief Justice, Winfree, Stowers, Maassen, and
BOLGER, Chief Justice.
couple divorced after over 40 years of marriage. Although the
wife had moved to a different state several years prior, the
superior court determined that their date of separation was
in 2014. The court also recaptured pension payments the two
received after this date. The wife appeals, arguing that
these and various other aspects of the superior court's
property division were erroneous.
superior court neither erred nor abused its discretion in its
determination of the date of separation. And most of the
wife's other challenges to the property division are
without merit. But we reverse the superior court's
failure to make specific factual findings in its recapture
FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS
Taylor and Tamra Faris were married in 1973. For most of
their marriage, they lived in Juneau. Faris spent her entire
career working for the federal government, earning a Civil
Service Retirement System (CSRS) pension. In 2004 Faris
accepted a promotion and moved to Honolulu, Hawaii. She moved
to Portland, Oregon, also for work reasons, in 2006 and
currently resides there. She retired from her career with the
federal government in 2010.
Faris moved, Taylor remained in Juneau. Taylor held a variety
of jobs during his marriage to Faris, including various
positions with the State of Alaska that made him eligible for
Public Employees' Retirement System (PERS). He retired in
2011 and now draws from a PERS annuity and Social Security.
The divorce trial
Taylor filed for divorce. He and Faris reached a settlement
agreement in February 2014 and the court entered a divorce
decree at that time. Three days later, however, Faris sought
to withdraw distribution of property from that agreement.
superior court held five days of trial on the couple's
property division in late 2015 and early 2016, after the
settlement agreement had broken down. The court issued an
order dividing the marital estate in May 2017. It concluded
that the parties had not separated until 2014, when they
divide the marital estate, the superior court first
determined the properties available for distribution. These
included two marital properties: a home in Juneau and a
second home in Portland, Oregon. The court valued the Juneau
home at $450, 000 and awarded it to Taylor. It found that the
Portland home was worth $5 80, 000 and awarded the home to
court then valued and distributed the remaining property,
finding it "equitable to divide the estate with 50% of
the assets awarded to each party." This split required
dividing the parties' pension payments between them so
that each would receive the same monthly income. The court
heard expert testimony on the value of each party's
pensions, but the testimony conflicted. The court elected to
split the monthly pension payments in half, using a qualified
domestic relations order (QDRO).
court also considered the pension payments the parties had
received since the date of separation in 2014. The court
calculated the total benefit each party received from this
income and credited that benefit against each party's
award, thereby "recapturing" the parties'
post-separation pension payments.
the trial Faris filed several motions for reconsideration,
arguing in relevant part that the court erred when it (1)
recaptured the CSRS payments received between the date the
divorce was granted and the close of trial and (2) determined
that the date of separation was in 2014.
superior court denied reconsideration of these issues. It
found that both parties had "treated the
[post-separation] PERS and CSRS payments as separate
assets," effectively converting them to a non-marital
form,  and declined to revisit its decision to
recapture. The court also declined to revisit its date of