Holt v. Holt
In Holt v. Holt, 70 Ark. App. 43, 14 S.W.3d 887 (2000), the Court reversed a chancellor's decision granting a former husband's petition to modify a divorce decree to exclude his post-divorce salary increases in calculating the former wife's share of his retirement benefits.
Holding that the chancery court lacked jurisdiction under Rule 60 to modify the decree ten years after it was entered, the Court noted that the decree did not specify whether post-decree salary increases would be included in the calculation of the former wife's share of the retirement benefits.
The Court also noted that there were no changed circumstances since the decree was initially entered; the federal regulations then in force had provided that, unless the court directly and unequivocally ordered otherwise, a decree dividing an annuity on a percentage basis would be interpreted to entitle the former spouse to salary adjustments occurring after the date of the decree.
Additionally, the Court found no ambiguity regarding the legal effect of the language employed in the decree, and concluded:
"In the absence of either changed circumstances or ambiguity, the changes made to the decree were not clarifications of what the court originally intended, but instead modifications that changed the effect that the decree would have had pursuant to its express terms and the law extant at the time it was pronounced." (70 Ark. App. at 45, 14 S.W.3d at 888.)