Davis v. Davis, S10A2070
*All courts mentioned are at the state level.
- Parties were divorced in Louisiana, a community property state. After moving to Georgia 12 years later, Wife attempted to domesticate the decree and implement a constructive trust on her interest in Husband’s military retirement benefits. Court of Appeals transferred the case to the Supreme Court based on SC’s jurisdiction over all divorce and alimony cases, and all equity cases. Supreme Court disagreed and held it was not a divorce, alimony, equity, or title-to-land case over which the SC would have jurisdiction, and sent it back to the CoA.
- The divorce decree did not partition the marital estate, so under Louisiana law, the parties each had an undivided half interest in the property, like tenants in common. Therefore, allocation of the retirement benefits property was governed by property law, not the divorce decree. Wallack v. Wallack 211 Ga. 745 (1955) allows equitable partition of personal property where divorce decree did not divide the community property.
- A suit to domesticate a foreign divorce decree is not a divorce/alimony case in Georgia. Lewis v. Robinson, 254 Ga. 378 (1985).
- Retirement benefits are personal property, not real property, so SC had no title to land jurisdiction.
- Also not an equity case. While a constructive trust has been described as an equitable remedy to prevent unjust enrichment, imposition of an implied or constructive trust as an equitable remedy does not automatically trigger SC’s equity jurisdiction. Reeves v. Newman, 287 Ga. 317 (2010). Actions to partition personal property are also not generally equity cases.
- Where issues are legal and do not relate to propriety of constructive trust, jurisdiction is with CoA.