Marriage of ChapmanAnnotate this Case
The issue this case presented for the Court of Appeals' review was whether one spouse’s unilateral election (after a settlement agreement and judgment of dissolution) to change from one type of military benefit (retirement that was taxable and community property) to another type of military benefit (combat-related special compensation that was not taxable and separate property) could defeat the community property interest of the other spouse set forth in the marital settlement agreement. The Court determined that one spouse could not, by invoking a condition wholly within his control, defeat the community interest of the other spouse. The trial court here correctly determined that "the post-judgment election" by appellant Philip Chapman did not relieve him of his agreement to pay respondent Judy Chapman $475 per month for her community property share of his military retirement. The Court reversed the trial court’s order, however, because the remedy the court selected was improper. The trial court imposed a constructive trust on the funds received by Philip as combat-related special compensation benefits. But the remedy of a constructive trust was available only for wrongful conduct.