Alimony & Spousal Support

When Pension Assets are Subject to Equitable Distribution Pension Income Should Not Be Considered In Determining Spousal Support

In the alimony/spousal support case of Ruggerio v. Ruggerio, 20-2-4569, App. Div., the plaintiff Sebastian Ruggiero appeals orders of the Family Part that modified his monthly alimony obligation and denied his motion for reconsideration. Defendant’s current Case Information Statement (CIS) would have provided the motion court with sufficient information regarding her current financial status, including recent tax returns, W-2 forms, pay stubs and other sources of income. Yet, the motion court proceeded to resolution without this critical information, having failed to either order defendant to submit a CIS or, alternatively, draw an inference adverse to her from her lack of any response whatsoever. Further, based on the parties’ property settlement agreement that included plaintiff’s pension as an asset for equitable distribution, plaintiff’s pension income should not have been considered in determining his ability to pay his spousal support obligation. The appellate panel remands this matter for a new hearing in order to provide plaintiff with an opportunity to present evidence and argument for the termination of his alimony obligation. As part of the remand proceeding, the motion court shall consider any deficits in defendant’s proofs in determining whether any further reduction in, or termination of plaintiff’s alimony obligation is fair and equitable. Further, the motion court, in its statement of reasons, should specifically identify what sources of income and circumstances it relied on in making any such determination. Lastly, the court shall not consider plaintiff’s pension income in deciding this matter.

Reference: Case & Analysis New Jersey Law Journal, 217 N.J.L.J. 257 (July 21, 2014)

Filed Under Alimony/Spousal Support: Pension Income; Family Law

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