While researching the Gameworks thing, I noticed that all state supreme court decision from 1931 to the present are available online for free. My mother mentioned that my grandparents' divorce case went all the way to the state supreme court, but had never mentioned why. So I just now went and looked LILLIAN S. WEISS v. GEORGE A. WEISS. (That link won't work unless you have some cookies previously established by visiting the mrsc.org site.
Here's what precedent the case decided. Previously, the court had decided that findings of fact by a trial court judge (absent a jury) will stand unless
so much of the finding or findings as is claimed to be erroneous shall be set out verbatim in the brief. What my grandfather challenged as erroneous in fact was the present value calculation of his retirement benefits. The court has assigned a present value of $52,881 to those benefits, which came out of his half of the community property. My grandmother received $77,421, and my grandfather received $30,798 plus the retirement benefits. He felt the valuation of the retirement benefits was too high and should be calculated differently.
- Appeal and Error - Findings of Fact - Setting Out in Brief - Necessity. Compliance with ROA 43, which relates to a review of a lower court's factual determinations, is mandatory.
- Divorce - Disposition of Property - Discretion of Court - Review. A trial court's exercise of discretion in dividing the property of parties to a divorce will be disturbed on appeal only for a manifest abuse of such discretion.
I'm not sure based on reading the legalese, but it appears that item #1 is that my grandfather didn't follow legal procedure in the formation of his argument.
On item #2, it appears that they decided the merits of the case anyway, despite the fact that they could have ignored them and decided only on procedural grounds. In this they said that the valuation of his retirement benefits stands unless he can show that the judge's calculation was grossly wrong.
I don't know how much a difference in valuation he was asking for. He lost.