ST. LOUIS — The Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District has affirmed a circuit court ruling in a couple's divorce settlement with the exception of the amount of a state pension the husband must turn over to his former wife.
In a decision filed May 9, the appeals court held that the trial court should award 50 percent, not 60 percent, of Michael Kratzer's Missouri State Employees' Retirement System (MOSERS) plan to ex-wife Tracy Kratzer. The amount would be consistent with an earlier ruling by St. Charles County Circuit Judge John Banas, as well as state statute, which holds that in divorce proceedings, an award cannot exceed 50 percent of what has been accrued.
A three-judge appeal panel, which included Judges Colleen Dolan, Sherri Sullivan and Roy Richter, otherwise agreed with Banas in his judgment awarding Tracy Kratzer $1,800 monthly in maintenance, calculating child support, distributing marital property, valuing a business owned by Michael Kratzer and ordering Kratzer to pay a portion of his ex-wife's attorney's fees.
According to background information in the order, a trial involving the Kratzers' divorce was held in four days in the summer of 2015, but not on consecutive days. The judge issued his ruling on Jan. 27, 2016, dividing property, awarding separate property and ordering Michael Kratzer to pay maintenance. In addition to awarding Tracy the marital home, 60 percent of the MOSERS pension plan and interest in a deferred contribution plan, the judge ordered him to pay an equalization payment of $15,475.50 and to pay $15,000 of Tracy Kratzer's attorney's fees.
The next month, Michael Kratzer filed a combined motion to amend, for new trial and to reopen evidence. The judge denied the motions, and he appealed on June 3, 2016.
Among other things, the appeals court found that Banas was correct to award monthly maintenance because Tracy Kratzer "lacked sufficient property to meet her reasonable needs and was unable to support herself through appropriate employment."
Regarding Michael Kratzer's payment of his ex-wife's attorney's fees, the ruling states that the trial court took note of the financial resources of both parties and their conduct over the duration of their divorce.
"Specifically, the court noted that Husband’s income had increased from the time of filing for dissolution from $45,000 to $80,000 at the time of trial, and Husband had violated the court’s order by disposing of $159,000 in marital assets," the ruling states. "The court found that Wife’s attorney’s fees increased due to Husband’s actions but the court noted that the behavior of both parties had resulted in escalation of attorneys’ fees."