Articles Tagged with Equitable Distribution

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I would like to begin this blog post by thanking all those who are currently serving in the United States military and to all Veterans  that have served. Currently, there are approximately 22 million veterans of the U.S. armed forces and 1.5 million currently serving. On September 15, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling potentially affecting their military families. The Supreme Court unanimously ruled in May, 2017, in the case of Howell v. Howell (No.15-1037) that a state court may not order a veteran to indemnify a divorced spouse for the loss in the divorced spouse’s portion of the veteran’s retirement pay caused by the veteran’s waiver of retirement pay to receive service-related disability benefits.

The facts surrounding case involved an Arizona court awarding Sandra Howell half of Air Force veteran John Howell’s retirement pay when the couple was divorced in 1991. Mr. Howell later became eligible for disability benefits in 2005 and elected to waive $250 of his $1,500 a month in retirement pay, which is taxable, in favor of $250 monthly disability pay, which is not taxable. The election reduced his ex-wife’s monthly divorce settlement by $125 and she went back to court requesting her half of what his pay would have been had he not chosen the election.  She won and the Arizona Supreme Court affirmed that decision.  Mr. Howell appealed the case to the United States Supreme Court which reversed the state Supreme Court’s decision.file000366641089-300x225

The Supreme Court further affirmed and clarified the prior decision that retirement pay that is received from the military as disability payments that commenced solely because of a service member’s disability is not payable to a former spouse. Mansell v. Mansell, 490, U.S. 581, 584 (1989). The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) precludes a state court, within the context of a divorce proceeding, from dividing military disability retirement pay pursuant to state property laws because the USFSPA authorizes that only disposable retired or retainer pay be counted as marital property for equitable distribution. 10 U.S.C. § 1408(a) (4) and (7).

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On December 12, 2016 the Supreme Court of New Jersey decided the case of Thieme-v-Aucoin-Thieme, regarding equitable distribution and/or the use of a constructive trust in a post-judgmentDSC04154-B-300x225 dispute over deferred compensation paid to one spouse after the parties’ divorce. Continue reading

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When it comes to romantic couples “living together”, attitudes have changed from what they were a few decades ago.   The negative stigma attached to couples cohabiting outside of marriage has waned and fewer people view unmarried couples who live together as inappropriate or immoral.   In fact, many couples view “living together” as a way to live without marriage, as part of dating, as a means to reduce expenses or as a useful step or “test run” so to speak in the road towards marriage. Continue reading

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Recently a divorce case made the news with screaming headlines such as “Ex-wife of US Oil Baron to appeal $1 Billion Divorce Award”. Yes, that was billion with a “B” . Intrigued, I was drawn to read how someone could not only receive such an award, but more importantly, on what basis someone would even want to challenge it, representing an amount far beyond most peoples’ wildest dreams. Continue reading

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Many in today’s society would view the court’s treatment of dogs and other pets as merely property to be equitably distributed in the breakup of relationship as antiquated, given the increasing role that pets are play in today’s society. A common scenario playing out in relationships across the Garden State today is that many couples begin to cohabit and soon after get a dog or another pet to raise together.  Those of us on social media regularly see pictures posted of couples and their dogs in which they are categorized as their “baby” or loved one.  Couples spend significant time in researching which pet to purchase or rescue from the shelter.   They spend significant time and money on training and caring for an animal that many consider to be a member of the family. Continue reading

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When it comes to questions regarding equitable distribution, the one that seemingly gets overlooked or underappreciated the most often is the question revolving around how to divide or distribute the marital liabilities or debts of the marriage.  It is so much easier to comprehend and make distributions of the assets of a particular marriage, but clients often do not necessarily understand or conceptualize that the marital liabilities and debts need to be “distributed” too.   Continue reading

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Last week, Padraic Dugan addressed the concept of how a gift or transfer of property to one or both spouses may be treated in a divorce.  Butgive what occurs if one of the spouses transfers marital money or marital property to a person or entity outside of the marriage?    Continue reading

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It is well settled in New Jersey that when there is a question of whether a transfer of property was a gift or not, “Proof of gift requires evidence of unequivocal donative intent on the donor’s part, actual or symbolic delivery of the gift’s subject matter, and the donor’s absolute and irrevocable relinquishment of ownership.”  Continue reading

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According to a March, 2013 publication from the National Center for Family & Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University, authors Susan L. Brown and I-Fen Lin discussed the divorce rate for adults over the age of 50 in their article elderlyentitled “The Gray Divorce Revolution: Rising Divorce among Middle-aged and Older Adults, 1990-2010”.  Continue reading

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In 1971, New Jersey enacted Divorce Reform Legislation thereby placing in the forefront  an “Equitable” standard for the distribution of property when people divorce, replacing the long previously held universal rule that when people divorce, property is divided according to title to the property.  Continue reading