Thursday, October 30, 2014
Equitable Distribution of Pension Reversed on Appeal
In the recent Appellate Division case, Krupinski v. Krupinski, the Court reversed the Family Court's decision denying Mr. Krupinski's Motion to terminate his alimony and directed the trial court to provide an order for an exchange of discovery in a post-divorce equitable distribution dispute over a party's pension. Mr. Krupinski appealed from the lower court's decision because his ex-wife, whom he divorced in 1990, was continuing to receive a large portion of his teacher's pension through a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO), which entitled his ex-spouse to the marital portion of his pension. When the parties divorced, Mr. Krupinski was earning $45,000 a year. After the divorce, he acquired advanced degrees and eventually got a job working for the school administration. When he retired his pension was based upon a yearly salary of $132,000. Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(b), "when a share of a retirement benefit is treated as an asset for purposes of equitable distribution, the court shall not consider income generated thereafter by that share for the purposes of determining alimony." D'Oro v. D'Oro, 187 N.J. Super. 377, 454 (Ch. Div. 1982). In the current case, the Appellate Court found that the Family Court erred in denying Mr. Krupinksi's Motion to terminate his alimony obligation without making an initial determination that his pension benefit had increased because of his post-divorce education and training. According to the court, the Motion judge was required to identify which portion of Mr. Krupinksi's pension shared by his ex-spouse was a joint effort of the parties during their marriage and which part was due to his post-divorce efforts. Based upon this determination, the post-divorce increase in Mr. Krupinski's salary should be excluded from the equitable distribution of the marital asset. The Appellate Division ultimately held that the case should be remanded to the Family Court for the establishment of a discovery schedule to determine whether or not there are material issues of fact in dispute warranting an evidence hearing with regard the distribution of the marital asset. The equitable distribution of assets and alimony are of the most emotional and complex aspects of a divorce. If you are involved in a battle over the division of marital property, assets, or debts or alimony it is extremely important that you seek out the advice of an experienced attorney before moving forward. For more information about equitable distribution, alimony, contested divorce, spousal support, or other family law matters in New Jersey visit HeatherDarlingLawyer.com. This blog is for informational purposes and in no way intended to replace the advice of an attorney.