Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Jago v. Jago

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

August 19, 2019

GEOFFREY H. JAGO Appellee
v.
TINA M. JAGO Appellant

          Appeal from the Order Entered November 9, 2018 In the Court of Common Pleas of Lehigh County Domestic Relations at No(s): 2018-C-1569

          BEFORE: PANELLA, P.J., GANTMAN, P.J.E., and PELLEGRINI [*] , J.

          OPINION

          GANTMAN, P.J.E.

         Appellant, Tina M. Jago ("Wife"), appeals from the order entered in the Lehigh County Court of Common Pleas, which vacated a qualified domestic relations order ("QDRO") the court had previously entered upon joint petition of Wife and Geoffrey H. Jago ("Husband") and denied the parties' amended joint petition for entry of an amended QDRO.[1] We affirm.

         The relevant facts and procedural history of this case are as follows. The parties married on June 21, 1997, and are still married. Husband is a participant in a JetBlue Airways Retirement Plan ("Plan").[2] On June 21, 2018, the couple filed a "Verified Joint Petition for QDRO." In the petition, the parties sought to transfer $400, 000.00 from the Plan to an individual retirement account ("IRA") in Wife's name. The petition read, in relevant part, as follows:

1. [Husband], Plan Participant; and [Wife], Alternate Payee, were married on or about June 21, 1997. … There is no pending petition for divorce or other family law matter before this Honorable Court.
2. [Husband] and [Wife], as current spouse and qualifying Alternate Payee of [Husband], both wish to execute a [QDRO]…regarding the [Plan]…. … Said QDRO properly distributes the funds pursuant to the mutual requests of the parties.
* * *
4. [Husband] has obtained pre-approval of the attached QDRO from the [Plan], Plan Administrator. …
5. The Parties further acknowledge and expressly state that the signing of the QDRO is for public records purposes only and pursuant to federal law restrictions. Notwithstanding any particular language of the joint Petition and/or QDRO, the parties do not intend to partition any of the funds involved in the QDRO transfer, nor change the classification of the community nature of the funds in [Husband]'s name into separate property into the name of [Wife].
6. The parties acknowledge and agree that should any portion of this Joint Petition or QDRO be interpreted to have changed the classification of the funds transferred; then both parties shall immediately sign documentation pursuant to Pennsylvania law donating the funds back to the Plan.

(Verified Joint Petition for QDRO, filed 6/21/18; R.R. at 3a-4a). The trial court approved the proposed QDRO via an order dated June 22, 2018, and docketed June 25, 2018.

         Subsequently, the parties sought to increase the amount of funds transferred from the Plan to Wife's IRA. In a letter dated September 13, 2018, the Plan administrator pre-approved a transfer of $700, 000.00 conditioned upon the trial court executing an amended QDRO. On October 2, 2018, the parties filed an "Amended Verified Joint Petition for QDRO," seeking to transfer $700, 000.00 from the Plan to Wife's IRA. The October 2nd proposed QDRO was nearly identical to the original QDRO; the only significant difference between the two QDROs was the amount of funds the parties sought to transfer. Following a hearing on November 2, 2018, the court denied the amended QDRO petition and vacated the initial QDRO on November 9, 2018. In its November 9th order, the court expressly stated the order was final per Pa.R.A.P. 341(c).

         On December 6, 2018, Wife timely filed a notice of appeal. The court ordered Wife on December 11, 2018, to file a concise statement of errors complained of on appeal per Pa.R.A.P. 1925(b); Wife timely complied on January 2, 2019. On February 8, 2019, this Court issued a rule to show cause why the November 9, 2018 order is a final, appealable order; Wife filed a response on February 19, 2019. This Court discharged the rule to show cause on February 21, 2019, and deferred the matter to the merits panel.[3]

         Wife raises three issues for our review:

WHETHER THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FAILING TO RECOGNIZE THE PROPOSED ORDER AS "RELATING TO CHILD SUPPORT…OR MARITAL PROPERTY RIGHTS TO A SPOUSE" UNDER 29 U.S.C.A. [§] 1056[?]
WHETHER THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FAILING TO RECOGNIZE THE PROPOSED ORDER AS APPROVED BY THE PLAN ADMINISTRATOR AS A QDRO[?]
WHETHER THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN REQUIRING A PENDING DIVORCE AS A PREREQUISITE TO ENTERING A QDRO[?]

(Wife's Brief at 8).

         In her issues combined, Wife contends a pending divorce or marital separation is not required for entry of a QDRO. Wife submits requiring a divorce decree or a pending domestic relations action as a prerequisite to the entry of a QDRO elevates form over substance, citing Brown v. Continental Airlines, 647 F.3d 221 (5th Cir. 2011). Wife claims courts can enter QDROs in actions other than divorce to recognize the interests of a non-spouse, such as a child or other dependent. Wife also argues the parties' QDROs satisfied all other statutory requirements. Wife insists entry of the amended QDRO is in accordance with Pennsylvania domestic relations law, as the QDRO concerns marital property rights. Wife concludes this Court should reverse the trial court's order that denied the parties' petition to enter an amended QDRO and vacated the initial QDRO, and remand for entry of the amended QDRO. We disagree.

         Chapter 18, Title 29 of the United States Code outlines the regulatory scope of ERISA. See generally 29 U.S.C.A. § 1001 et seq. One of the principle objectives of ERISA is to protect the interests of plan participants and beneficiaries. Boggs v. Boggs, 520 U.S. 833, 845, 117 S.Ct. 1754, 1762, 138 L.Ed.2d 45, ___ (1997) (citing 29 U.S.C.A. § 1001(b) and other sections). ERISA accomplishes this objective through an "anti-alienation" provision, which prevents a plan participant from granting an interest in the benefits of the participant's retirement plan to a non-participant. Id. at 851, 117 S.Ct. at 1765, 138 L.Ed.2d at ___ (citing 29 U.S.C.A. § 1056(d)(1)). "The purpose of the proscription, in ERISA, on alienation and assignment of pension funds is to protect the participant from [the participant's] own financial improvidence." Richardson v. Richardson, 774 A.2d 1267, 1270 ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.