On June 13, the NH Supreme Court released an opinion on In the Matter of Richard R. Lemieux and Joanne Lemieux. In this case, Richard and Joanne were divorced in 1990. Their final divorce decree included stipulations regarding Joanne’s portion of Richard’s pension plan benefits, including the percentage each spouse would be awarded and the date that it would be divided. In 2001, Joanne filed a claim with the U.S. Office of Personal Management (OPM) and was awarded a monthly amount based on the date upon which Richard became eligible for retirement.

Richard challenged OPM’s decision by arguing that the monthly amount is based on the value of the pension when the initial divorce action was filed, not when Richard became eligible for retirement. Richard’s position is that the stipulation in the divorce decree should be reformed due to a mutual mistake of law.

The Court states that, “It is well established that courts may grant reformation in proper cases where the instrument fails to express the intentions that the parties had in making the contract.” The Court acknowledges that there is a mistake of law and rules that the parties intended to award Joanne a portion of Richard’s pension as of the date of the divorce decree and not as of the date of his eventual retirement.  

Blog Credit: Marisa L. Ulloa, Crusco Law Office Law Clerk