KATHRYN J. LANDEWEE, Appellant,
JOHN E. LANDEWEE, Respondent.
FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF CAPE GIRARDEAU COUNTY The Honorable
Scott E. Thomsen, Judge
W. DRAPER III, JUDGE
J. Landewee (hereinafter, "Wife") appeals the trial
court's judgment dissolving her marriage to John E.
Landewee (hereinafter, "Husband"). Wife claims the
trial court erred in: (1) failing to equitably divide the
marital assets and debts in a manner that is definite and
capable of enforcement; (2) assigning no present value to
Husband's defined benefit pension plan through the
Missouri Local Government Employees Retirement Benefit Plan
(hereinafter, "LAGERS"); and (3) not considering
the factors in section 452.330, RSMo 2000,  which resulted in an unfair, unjust, and
unconscionable property division ordering Wife to pay Husband
an equalization share. This Court has jurisdiction over this
appeal under article V, section 10, of the Missouri
Constitution, because it granted transfer after opinion by
the court of appeals. The trial court's judgment is
and Procedural Background
and Husband were married in 1991. During their marriage, Wife
and Husband had two children. Wife and Husband acquired the property and
debts of Knaup Floral, Inc. (hereinafter, "Knaup
Floral"), Wife's family's business.
Additionally, Knaup Floral was connected by a breezeway to
their marital home. At the time of their divorce, Wife owned
and worked at Knaup Floral, and Husband worked for the city
of Cape Girardeau.
trial court divided the marital debts and assets, awarding
Wife: Knaup Floral, along with the real estate, vehicles, and
the bank account associated with Knaup Floral; the marital
home connected to Knaup Floral; her retirement account; two
life insurance policies; her personal bank account; and the
debt on two credit cards. The trial court awarded Husband:
Husband's LAGERS pension, a vehicle, Husband's
retirement account, four life insurance policies, and
Husband's bank account. In order to equalize the awards,
the trial court ordered Wife to pay Husband $196, 496.50.
the trial court found a portion of Husband's LAGERS
pension was marital property. Yet, any pension benefit could
not be accessed until Husband retired, and if Husband were to
die prior to retirement, there would be no pension benefit
payable to either Wife or Husband. The trial court noted
LAGERS is exempt from the terms of ERISA and cannot be
divided by a qualified domestic relations order (hereinafter,
"QDRO"). Accordingly, the trial court determined
the LAGERS pension had no value at the time of the
dissolution, and it ordered: "[Husband] shall pay to
[Wife] the sum of $687.00 (half of the accrued marital
benefit of $1, 374.00 per month) less applicable income taxes
per month beginning on the first day of the first month that
[Husband] both becomes eligible to receive such benefits and
does, in fact, receive such benefits from LAGERS."
appealed, challenging the trial court's distribution of
marital property. Following opinion by the Missouri Court of
Appeals, Eastern District, this Court granted transfer.
Court must sustain the trial court's judgment in a
dissolution case "unless there is no substantial
evidence to support it, unless it is against the weight of
the evidence, unless it erroneously declares the law, or
unless it erroneously applies the law." Murphy v.
Carron, 536 S.W.2d 30, 32 (Mo. banc 1976); see also
Simpson v. Simpson, 352 S.W.3d 362, 363 (Mo. banc 2011).
This Court accepts as true the evidence and reasonable
inferences therefrom in the light most favorable to the trial
court's judgment, and disregards all evidence and
inferences to the contrary. In re Marriage of
Hillis, 313 S.W.3d 643, 644 (Mo. banc 2010). "The
burden of demonstrating error is on the party challenging the
divorce decree." Hernandez v. Hernandez, 249
S.W.3d 885, 888 (Mo. App. W.D. 2008).
trial court has broad discretion in identifying, valuing, and
dividing marital property." Alabach v. Alabach,
478 S.W.3d 511, 513 (Mo. App. E.D. 2015). This Court will
interfere with the trial court's distribution of marital
property only if the division is so heavily weighted in favor
of one party as to amount to an abuse of discretion.
Rallo v. Rallo, 477 S.W.3d 29, 38 (Mo. App. E.D.
raises three allegations of error, each focused upon the
trial court's division of marital property.
Distribution Capable of Enforcement
Wife argues the trial court failed to equitably divide the
marital assets and debts in a manner that is definite and
capable of enforcement as required by section 452.330. Wife
asserts the trial court's judgment is inconsistent with
the legislative intent of the Dissolution of Marriage Act.
Specifically, Wife contends she should be awarded an
immediate division of Husband's LAGERS pension.
452.330.1 governs property division, and it provides the
trial court "shall set apart to each spouse such
spouse's nonmarital property and shall divide the marital
property and marital debts in such proportions as the court
deems just after considering all relevant factors."
"Retirement benefits are considered marital property and
are subject to division, unless they were accumulated prior
to the marriage." Rallo, 477 S.W.3d at 39.
Reaching a fair and equitable division of pension benefits
requires careful consideration by the trial court of the
unique circumstances of each case and the type of pension
being divided. Kuchta v. Kuchta, 636 S.W.2d 663, 664
(Mo. banc 1982).
Kuchta, this Court recognized three general periods
of time when a dissolution could occur with the corresponding
status of a pension plan: (1) before a plan vests; (2) after
a plan vests, but before it matures; and (3) after a plan
vests and matures. Id. at 665. It is clear a trial
court may act with a reasonable amount of certainty in
dividing a pension plan either before it vested or after it
vested and matured. Id. Division of a pension that
has vested but not matured, e.g., when there is no right to
receive benefits until reaching a designated retirement age,
presents the most difficulty. Id. "Because of
the untold number of 'pension plans' which appear to
have their own singular and unique requirements for meeting