FROM THE ST. FRANCIS COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO.
62DR-2011-18-3] HONORABLE CHRISTOPHER W. MORLEDGE, JUDGE
D. Bridgforth, P.A., Attorney at Law, by: John D. Bridgforth,
A. Simpson, Jr., for appellee.
RAYMOND R. ABRAMSON, Judge
appeal involves a dispute over the proceeds of a life
insurance policy on the life of Brad Hudspeth, deceased. Brad
and appellant Kim Hudspeth, now Lemons, were divorced by
decree of the St. Francis County Circuit Court on August 30,
2011. Incorporated into the Hudspeths' divorce decree was
a property-settlement and separation agreement. Brad Hudspeth
died intestate on October 11, 2015.
January 4, 2016, Metropolitan Life Insurance Company (Met
Life), the insurance carrier for Brad Hudspeth's life
insurance policy, paid the policy limits of approximately
$60, 000 to Kim Hudspeth, the named beneficiary of the
policy. Appellee Robert Hudspeth, brother of Brad and
administrator of the estate of Brad Hudspeth, filed a motion
to enforce the divorce decree and for a temporary injunction,
alleging that the property-settlement agreement precluded Kim
from receiving life-insurance proceeds. The circuit court
found that Kim had waived her right to the proceeds and
awarded appellee the life insurance proceeds. Kim appeals
from that decision, contending that the circuit court erred.
We agree and reverse the circuit court's order.
the Hudspeth marriage and at the time of the divorce, both
Brad Hudspeth and appellant were employed by the United
States Postal Service. Brad carried a basic life insurance
policy, and he designated Kim as the beneficiary. After the
parties divorced, no change was made to the named
beneficiary. However, after Met Life paid appellant the
benefits, appellee filed a motion to enforce the decree and
for a temporary injunction, arguing that pursuant to the
parties' divorce decree and paragraph 8 of their
property-settlement agreement, each of the parties
relinquished any and all claims toward the other party's
pension plan or any other benefits to which either party was
entitled under the Federal Employees Retirement System.
Appellee contended that each party specifically waived any
right to claim any portion of the other party's basic
benefit plans, special retirement supplements, or thrift
March 3, 2016, the circuit court held a hearing on the matter
and found that appellant had waived her right to claim the
proceeds of her ex-husband's life insurance policy and
therefore awarded the proceeds to appellee. An order entered
on April 8, 2016, reflected its ruling. This timely appeal
standard of review on appeal from a bench trial is whether
the circuit court's findings were clearly erroneous or
clearly against the preponderance of the evidence.
Foundation Telecomms., Inc. v. Moe Studio, Inc., 341
Ark. 231, 238, 16 S.W.3d 531, 536 (2000). A finding is
clearly erroneous when, although there is evidence to support
it, the reviewing court, based on the entire evidence, is
left with a firm conviction that an error has been committed.
Mauldin v. Snowden, 2011 Ark.App. 630, at 2, 386
S.W.3d 560, 562.
argues that the provision relied on by the appellee and the
circuit court fails to specifically address the parties'
life insurance policies. We agree. Paragraph 4 of the
settlement agreement, which was incorporated into the
couple's divorce decree, provides, in part, as follows:
4. Defendant's separate-non-marital
property. Defendant owns certain property which he
acquired prior to marriage or which is otherwise non-marital
property. Defendant shall be entitled to the exclusive
ownership of these items of property, and Plaintiff makes no
claim toward these items of property. Defendant shall be
entitled to the exclusive ownership of the following items of
(1) - (4) . . .
(5) The cash value of any and all life insurance policies