Equitable Distribution

Spouse Is Awarded Only Limited Equitable Distribution From Spouse’s Deferred Compensation Plan

In the post-judgment matrimonial case of Thieme v. Aucoin, No. 20-2-8122 App. Div., the defendant appealed from a Family Part order awarding her only limited equitable distribution from plaintiff’s deferred compensation and denying attorney’s fees. The parties lived together for eight years and were married for 14 months before plaintiff filed for divorce. Approximately three months after the divorce, plaintiff’s employer gave him a one-time substantial bonus pursuant to an earlier agreement to compensate him for his contribution to the company in the event that it was ever sold. The court divided the bonus by the number of months plaintiff had worked, multiplied the monthly amount by the 14 months’ of marriage and reduced that amount after determining that the asset was not secured by mutual effort and that rather than enhancing plaintiff’s ability to earn, defendant had jeopardized it through her conduct. The panel affirmed substantially for the reasons expressed below. It added that, although property subject to equitable distribution is allocated based on each party’s respective contributions to the marriage, the judge did not abuse her discretion in determining that defendant’s portion of the bonus was proportionate to the length of marriage since the determination that defendant had not substantially contributed to plaintiff earning the bonus was supported by adequate evidence in the record.

Reference: Case & Analysis, New Jersey Law Journal; 221 N.J.L.J. 1267 (October 19, 2015)

Filed Under: Family Law; Equitable Distribution; Deferred Compensation Plans

Kindly visit our Family Law & Equitable Distribution websites for more information on this topic.