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Gourley v. Gourley

Court of Appeals of Texas, Second District, Fort Worth

June 14, 2018

AUDREY DIANE GOURLEY APPELLANT
v.
CRAIG NEIL GOURLEY APPELLEE

          FROM THE 324TH DISTRICT COURT OF TARRANT COUNTY TRIAL COURT NO. 324-578647-15

          PANEL: SUDDERTH, C.J.; GABRIEL and PITTMAN, JJ.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION [1]

          LEE GABRIEL JUSTICE

         Appellant Audrey Diane Gourley appeals from the trial court's judgment declaring a 1998 divorce decree void and declaring the property division as stated in the prior 1996 divorce decree enforceable. Because we agree with the trial court that the 1998 divorce decree was void, we affirm the trial court's declaratory judgment.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. The 1996 Decree

         On June 11, 1978, Audrey and Appellee Craig Neil Gourley were married. During the marriage, Craig served as an officer in the United States Air Force until October 1988, when he separated from active duty to serve with the United States Air Force Reserve. During his reserve duty, Craig worked as a pilot for a commercial airline. In 1996, Craig filed for divorce. The trial court signed a final divorce decree on December 30, 1996, [2] and as relevant to this appeal, addressed Craig's military-retirement benefits:

[Craig] is awarded the following as [his] sole and separate property, and [Audrey] is divested of . . .
. . . .
. . . [a]ll right, title, and interest in and to that portion of the United States disposable retired or retainer pay to be paid as a result of [Craig's] service in the United States Air Force and reserves subject to [Audrey's] award as more fully set out in the Qualified Domestic Relations Order [QDRO] to be entered herein. The [QDRO] will deal with the benefits from the date of marriage to the date of divorce. All other benefits are awarded to [Craig]. [Emphasis added.]

See generally Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 7.003 (West 2006) (requiring trial court to address retirement benefits in property division). The trial court then awarded Audrey a one-half, separate-property interest in Craig's military-retirement benefits:

[Audrey] is awarded the following as [her] sole and separate property, and [Craig] is hereby divested of all right, title, interest, and claim in and to . . .
. . . .
. . . [o]ne-half of [Craig's] retirement benefits from the United States Air Force and Reserves from the date of marriage to the date of divorce, provided that, without affecting the finality of this decree, the parties may submit a separate [QDRO] at a later ...

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