Tarver v. Tarver
OPINION AND ORDER, to the extent the former husband requests this court to reconsider its previous decision, the 19 19 MOTION to Alter or amend is GRANTED; to the extent he requests the court to vacate its prior opinion, however, the 19 mot ion to vacate is due to be DENIED; further ORDERING that, to the extent the former husband requests this court to vacate its order granting the motion to dismiss in favor of the former spouse, the 19 motion to vacate is DENIED. Signed by Honorable Judge Terry F. Moorer on 1/12/17. (djy, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
TIMOTHY W. TARVER,
SUSAN A. TARVER,
CIVIL ACT. NO. 2:16cv715-TFM
OPINION and ORDER
On December 27, 2016, Timothy Tarver (“the former husband” or “Tarver”) filed
a Motion to Alter, Amend, or Vacate this Court’s decision to grant the Motion to Dismiss
filed by Susan A. Tarver (“the former wife”). Doc. 19. To the extent the former husband
requests this court to reconsider its previous decision, the Motion to Alter or Amend is
GRANTED. Id. To the extent he requests the court to vacate its prior Opinion, however,
the Motion to Vacate is due to be DENIED. Id.
The former husband asserts that this court’s decision to dismiss is based on a clear
error of law or fact. Specifically, he argues that this matter is not barred by the RookerFeldman doctrine because no state court “ever addressed jurisdiction over veteran’s
disability benefits.” Id., p. 2. The matters set forth in the Petition for Declaratory
Judgment and Injunctive Relief, in which he requests this court to declare “whether the
State of Alabama has subject matter jurisdiction . . . to render a valid [and] enforceable
order to divide and assign the Veteran’s VA disability benefits and to force the Veteran
to pay said benefits to the Defendant despite express prohibition by 38 U.S.C. § 5301”
(Doc. 1), is clearly an attempt to circumvent the previous findings of the state courts
regarding the former wife’s efforts to enforce the terms of their divorce settlement
agreement in which the he agreed to pay his former wife 50 percent of his monthly
Department of Veterans Affairs disability benefits. Therefore, to the extent the former
husband seeks injunctive and declaratory relief from adverse decisions issued or actions
taken by the Elmore County Circuit Court, the Rooker-Feldman doctrine deprives this
court of jurisdiction over the former husband’s request.
In its prior Opinions, this court recognized that FSPA prohibits the division of
disability benefits as community property in a divorce. Doc. 17; Tarver v. Tarver,
2:15cv959-TFM (M.D. Ala., March 25, 2016), Doc. 10. Tarver’s request for this court to
declare “whether the State of Alabama has subject matter jurisdiction . . . to render a
valid [and] enforceable order to divide and assign the Veteran’s VA disability benefits
and to force the Veteran to pay said benefits to Defendant despite express prohibition by
38 U.S.C. § 5301” is the same issue he has repeatedly raised in both state and federal
court. Furthermore, to the extent Tarver requests this court to advise the state court how
to proceed with the terms of the settlement agreement, the court concludes that the
manner in which the state court directs Tarver to distribute the VA disability benefits
which he receives directly from the Department of Veterans Affairs and agreed to
provide to his former wife in a settlement agreement, such as by depositing the funds to
the former husband’s bank account and then transferring the funds to the wife’s bank
account or by some other similar manner, is not an issue before this court. The court
refrains to intervene in state court proceedings involving the interpretation of terms in the
divorce settlement agreement and any related contempt proceedings pursuant to the
Younger abstention doctrine.1
Tarver indicates that this court’s reliance on McSparin v. McSparin, 489 Fed.
Appx. 348 (11th Cir. 2012), is misplaced because the allocation of VA disability benefits
was part of an alimony payment determination rather than a provision for the division and
assignment of VA disability benefits as marital property. This court, however, concludes
that the reasoning in McSparin is equally applicable. The former husband’s claims in this
case “are inextricably intertwined with the state court judgment because, by raising them
in the district court, he essentially [seeks] to nullify the state court decision” regarding his
agreement to provide part of his disability payments to his former wife, and “nothing
suggests that he lacked a reasonable opportunity to raise all of his claims in state court.”
Accordingly, it is further ORDERED that, to the extent the former husband
requests this court to vacate its order granting the Motion to Dismiss in favor of the
former spouse, the Motion to Vacate is DENIED. Doc. 19.
Done this 12th day of January, 2017.
/s/ Terry F. Moorer
TERRY F. MOORER
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 371 (1971).
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