Is my spouse entitled to a portion of my entire pension?
The short answer is maybe. All of your retirement benefits may be subject to equitable distribution as part of the divorce litigation. The equitable distribution statute is found at N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23.1. Outlined in this statute are various factors to be considered by the Court when addressing equitable distribution issues. Absent an agreement to the contrary, assets and liabilities acquired by either party from the date of marriage through the date a divorce complaint is filed, will likely be subject to equitable distribution.
However, there are situations whereby certain assets acquired prior to the date of marriage may be excluded from equitable distribution. By way of an illustrative hypothetical, assume that you have defined benefit pension plan with your employer. Under the terms of this plan you will begin receive benefits at some future time when you retire. You started working and entered the pension plan in 1995, you were married in January, 2000, and a divorce complaint was filed in December, 2011. A successful argument can be made that your spouse’s equitable interest in your pension is limited to the benefits acquired between January, 2000 and December, 2011 and that your spouse has no equitable interest in benefits acquired prior to January, 2000 and subsequent to December, 2011.
It is highly recommended that you keep documentation that clearly establishes what assets and liabilities that you have going into a marriage. In the event of a factual dispute, typically the spouse seeking to exclude an asset from equitable distribution will be required to prove their contention.
All of the attorneys at Domers & Bonamassa are well versed and have years of experience addressing family law issues, no matter how complicated. Contact us today at (856) 596-2888 for a private consultation. We appear in the following counties: Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Cumberland, Salem, Mercer, Ocean, Atlantic and Cape May. Our practice areas include: divorce, custody, parenting time, child support, alimomy, domestic violence, college expenses, equitable distribution, name changes, step parent adoptions, paternity issues, child abuse and neglect, prenuptial agreements, mediation and arbitration.
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