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Broadbent v. Broadbent

Court of Appeals of Oklahoma, Division II

February 14, 2019

ALLEN BROADBENT, Petitioner/Appellant,
v.
CLORIE BROADBENT, Respondent/Appellee.

          Mandate Issued: 10/30/2019

          APPEAL FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF COMANCHE COUNTY, OKLAHOMA HONORABLE GERALD F. NEUWIRTH, TRIAL JUDGE

          John S. Roose, ROOSE & ROOSE LAW FIRM, P.C., Lawton, Oklahoma, for Petitioner/Appellant

          Stephen K. Newcombe, NEWCOMBE, REDMAN, ROSS & NEWCOMBE, P.C., Lawton, Oklahoma, for Respondent/Appellee

          JERRY L. GOODMAN, JUDGE

         ¶1 Allen B. Broadbent (Husband) appeals a November 14, 2017, decree of dissolution of marriage dividing the marital estate and awarding Clorie M. Broadbent (Wife) custody of the parties' minor children. Based upon our review of the record and applicable law, we affirm.

         BACKGROUND

         ¶2 The parties were married on April 28, 2006, and two children were born of the marriage. Husband filed a petition for divorce on January 27, 2016, requesting sole custody of the minor children and that the trial court equitably divide the parties' real and personal property. On March 23, 2016, the court issued a minute order awarding the parties temporary joint custody of the minor children.

         ¶3 On March 16, 2017, Husband filed an amended petition, contesting the court's jurisdiction to divide his U.S. Army retirement pursuant to 10 U.S.C. § 1408, the Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act (USFSPA). Husband asserted he was domiciled in Oklahoma solely for the purpose of serving in the U.S. Army and that Oklahoma was not his permanent home. Wife answered, asserting Husband had invoked the jurisdiction of the court when he requested affirmative relief in his original petition.

         ¶4 A trial was subsequently held on March 22, 2017, and May 10, 2017. At the conclusion of the trial, the court awarded Wife custody of the minor children with standard visitation to Husband. The trial court further determined it had jurisdiction to divide Husband's military retirement, finding Wife was entitled to 24.4% of the benefits. Husband appeals.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         ¶5 A trial court is vested with discretion in matters involving custody. Rowe v. Rowe, 2009 OK 66, ¶ 3, 218 P.3d 887, 889. An appellate court "will not disturb the trial court's judgment regarding custody absent an abuse of discretion or a finding that the decision is clearly contrary to the weight of the evidence." Daniel v. Daniel, 2001 OK 117, ¶ 21, 42 P.3d 863, 871. "The burden is upon the party appealing from the custody and visitation award to show that the trial court's decision is erroneous and contrary to the child's best interests." Id. "In reviewing such custody orders, deference will be given to the trial court since the trial court is better able to determine controversial evidence by its observation of the parties, the witnesses and their demeanor." Hoedebeck v. Hoedebeck, 1997 OK CIV APP 69, ¶ 10, 948 P.2d 1240, 1243 (quoting Newell v. Nash, 1994 OK CIV APP 143, 889 P.2d 345).

         ANALYSIS

         ¶6 For his first assertion of error on appeal, Husband asserts the trial court lacked jurisdiction to divide his military ...


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