Mallard v. Burkart

James Mallard and Tonya Mallard (now Tonya Mallard Burkart) were divorced on in 2001. Incorporated into the Final Judgment of Divorce was the Child Custody and Support and Property Settlement Agreement executed by the parties. A significant portion of the financial settlement that Burkart received in the property settlement agreement consisted of forty percent of Mallard's "disposable military retirement pay" for ten years. Following the divorce, Mallard elected to adopt a sixty-percent disability rating as part of his retirement pay. Mallard did not provide any of these disability benefits to Burkart. When Mallard filed a Petition for Modification of Judgment of Divorce in chancery court pursuant to child-support and custody matters, Burkart filed a counterpetition for contempt, asserting that Mallard had structured his retirement in such a way as to defeat her forty-percent interest in the total retirement pay. The chancellor determined that Burkart was entitled to forty percent of the disability benefits, but he declined to find Mallard in contempt. Mallard appealed. Upon review, the Supreme Court found that since federal law preempts state law, state courts are precluded from allocating military disability benefits to a nonmilitary spouse; therefore, the Court reversed and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Mallard v. Burkart" on Justia Law