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Posted by: Chandra Williams on Oct 15, 2015

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Michael John Selitsch, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Attorneys 2:

Brad W. Hornsby, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellee, Angeli Chan Selitsch.

Judge(s): CLEMENT

Husband filed a Tenn. R. Civ. P. 60.02 motion to set aside an agreed upon Final Decree of Divorce. He claims the agreed order was the result of a mutual mistake concerning one of his military benefits and that he lacked the mental capacity to understand the agreement. The parties married in 1989. Husband retired from the military in 2009 with 100% disability. Wife filed for divorce in 2012. Over the course of several months, the parties negotiated an agreement as to the division of all of their marital property. The agreement was announced in court in August 2013, at which time both spouses were called to testify concerning their understanding and approval of the agreement. The final divorce decree was subsequently approved by the trial court and entered in January 2014. Pursuant to the final decree, Husband received the entirety of his Veterans Affairs disability benefits, and Wife received one-half of Husband’s other retirement benefit. Husband subsequently filed a Rule 60.02 Motion to Set Aside Marital Agreement for Lack of Capacity and Mistake. He contended that the parties mistakenly believed that his military retirement benefit was marital property when, as a matter of law, the Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act prohibits the courts from treating a disability benefit as marital property. He also contended that he lacked the mental capacity to appreciate the nature of the hearing in which he agreed to the division of marital property due to the pain and stress related to his disease, as well as his medication. The trial court denied relief on both grounds. We affirm. The trial court acted within its discretion by denying Rule 60 relief on the finding that Husband failed to present sufficient proof to obtain relief on the ground of mental incapacity. Furthermore, a mistake of law is not a ground for Rule 60.02 relief and the trial court acted within its discretion when it denied relief on this ground and enforced the parties’ agreement.