Erickson-Dickson v. Erickson-Dickson

In Erickson-Dickson v. Erickson-Dickson, 12 Va. App. 381, 404 S.E.2d 388 (1991), a circuit judge had awarded a divorce but postponed a decision on equitable distribution until a later date. Former Code 20-107.3 required a joint motion of both parties and a finding by the judge that the distribution involved complex matters before the judge could postpone such a decision. 12 Va. App. at 383, 404 S.E.2d at 389. Although both parties had requested equitable distribution in their original pleadings, they had made no joint motion to postpone that determination and the judge made no finding of sufficient complexity. Id. The husband, who did not object at trial to the postponement, argued on appeal that the failure to satisfy the two statutory requirements deprived the court of jurisdiction and, thus, barred equitable distribution. The Court disagreed because the issue was not whether the court properly had acquired jurisdiction, but whether it had retained jurisdiction. Thus, the Court held that "when the court has acquired jurisdiction over the parties and the subject matter, and its continued exercise of that jurisdiction requires a ruling which depends upon factual determinations, an error in deciding the facts or the failure to decide them does not render the ruling void or a nullity." Id. at 388, 404 S.E.2d at 392.