Divorce Decree Husband's Retirement Benefits In Texas

In Constance v. Constance, the Texas Supreme Court addressed the issue of whether a divorce decree adjudicated the ownership of retirement benefits to be received by the husband. See Constance v. Constance, 544 S.W.2d 659, 659 (1976). The decree read, in part: And it further appearing to the Court that the Defendant...will receive approximately $ 220.00 per month as retired pay at this time.... and inasmuch as no award is being made to Plaintiff for any portion of the retired pay, the Court finds that the sum of $ 200.00 per month for child support is reasonable and it is accordingly ORDERED by the Court that the Defendant contribute the sum of $ 200.00 per month toward the support and maintenance of said minor children....Id. at 660. The court construed the judgment with the goal of harmonizing and giving effect to all the trial court had written. See id. All of a judgment's provisions should be given a fair reading in order to determine what the court has adjudicated. See id; See also Point Lookout West, Inc. v. Whorton, 742 S.W.2d 277, 278 (Tex. 1987) (per curiam) (considering statements made by the trial court following the close of evidence in ascertaining the court's intent underlying the judgment); Rodgers v. Williamson, 489 S.W.2d 558, 560 (Tex. 1973) (reversing the judgment of the appellate court that construed an Illinois judgment in a contrary manner to the express provisions of the judgment). The Constance court stated that the child support award (payable by the husband) rested upon the trial court's decision to award him the retirement benefits. See Constance, 544 S.W.2d at 660. Concluding that the retirement benefits had been decreed by the trial court is reasonable; otherwise, the benefits would have been included in the property settlement instead of the decree. See id.