For details, see the decision:  Huntley v. Huntley, CSA #755, Sept. Term 2015, Reported, Filed September 1, 2016.

Huntley v. Huntley, __ Md. App. __ 2016

Teri Spradlin represented appellant, Charles Huntley, on appeal from an adverse decision related to the circuit court’s denial of pension benefits in a divorce case.  His former spouse had filed a Complaint asking for a monetary award, alimony, a portion of the marital share of Mr. Huntley’s retirement benefits, and attorney’s fees.  Mrs. Huntley also listed her pension and IRA account on the Rule 9-207 form as marital property, and asked the court to value and divide the parties’ marital assets.  Mr. Huntley filed an Answer, but did not file a Counter-Complaint and did not request any affirmative relief beyond the granting of an absolute divorce and the denial of Mrs. Huntley’s request for alimony.

Among other things, the circuit court granted Mrs. Huntley’s request for half the marital portion of Mr. Huntley’s retirement benefits.  The court denied Mr. Huntley’s request at trial for a portion of Mrs. Huntley’s retirement benefits.  The Court reasoned that the only retirement benefits before it were Mr. Huntley’s, as only Mrs. Huntley had sought distribution of the other party’s retirement benefits.

The Court of Special Appeals affirmed, explaining the importance of Notice and ad damnum clauses, and writing in part, “Lydia’s request for a portion of the marital share of Charles’s retirement benefits did not put Lydia on notice that Charles would request a portion of the marital share of Lydia’s retirement benefits.”

This case is an important reminder to family law practitioners that clients, “must ask, in order to receive.”