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N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23.1- Equitable Distribution of Assets Obtained During the Marriage.


When you speak with a police officer, fireman, sheriff or other civil servant, one of the main topics they speak about is the amount of time they have left in order to qualify for their full pension benefits. The benefits are outstanding and it is a major source of contention in a divorce when the spouse seeks his or her share of the pension benefits accumulated. Pensions are part of the marital enterprise and are subject to equitable distribution if any of the pension has been accumulated during the course of the marriage. The New Jersey Statute for equitable distribution is N.J.S.A 2A:34-23.1
If someone qualifies for a pension, it does not mean that the entire pension is subject to division if the person who worked for the pension was not married for a period of time prior to the marriage. That portion of the pension is pre-marital and not subject to equitable distribution. The portion that is subject to division is the portion acquired during the years of marriage until the date of the filing of divorce. If you have a pension and a higher income than your spouse, you may be able to negotiate a lower portion of the pension for your spouse in exchange for the more tax favorable alimony payment and/or a longer alimony period so that your pension is yours or the majority of it is yours. It is good to have options. We will explore which options are best for you and you can decide after you hear everything that is on the table for you. It is important to think about a divorce settlement and negotiations by taking your time and hearing different options. We can help you with that.

While N.J.S.A. 43:16A-17 protects the retirement pensions of the Police and Fireman’s Retirement System from garnishment, a Court order can force the Board of Trustees to pay a portion of the monthly amount to  the pensioner’s wife (divorced wife). The case of State v. Travers, Appellate Division case of 1988 and Fischer v. Fischer of 1953 dealt with this very issue. It is hard at times for people to remember that marriage is a joint enterprise. If one person works or even if two people work, the contributions of each party is part of the marital pool of assets subject to asset division or Equitable Distribution. The argument that you did the work while he or she sat home will not fly well in family court.

If you have a divorce against a police officer, fireman or any other person that has a pension, contact our team as we have the experience in handling these matters. We can be reached on 201-706-7910. To view all of the legal services we offer in Jersey City and in New Jersey, visit our main page on Artusa Law Firm of Jersey City.


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