Wife P and husband D were married for 13 years. They had 3 children (mother's custody).
They were divorced under a new provision of law that allows divorce if the couple is separated for 18 consecutive months and there is not reasonable prospect of reconciliation.
It is a no fault ground for divorce.
The new law also calls for an equitable distribution of the marital property.
The trial court, in determining the value of property subject to equitable distribution, excluded assets whether were acquired by gift or inheritance during the marriage and property owned prior to marriage.
Trial court ruled.
NJ Supreme Court clarified rules, remanded.
Should the equitable distribution law be void as unconstitutional (void for vagueness)?
Is the word "equitable" insufficiently precise?
What property is eligible for apportionment between the spouses?
The equitable distribution law is not void for vagueness.
Equitable distribution is not unduly vague; it directs the judge to apportion the marital assets in such a manner as will be just to the parties concerned, under all circumstances of the particular case.
All property, regardless of its source, in which a spouse acquires an interest during the marriage shall be eligible for distribution in the event of divorce.
Equitable has a special meaning in the context of judges and courts; judges should make a fair distribution of assets. Factors to consider…
Respective age, background, and earning ability of the parties
Duration of the marriage
Standard of living of the parties during the marriage
What money or property each brought into the marriage
The present income of the parties
The property acquired during the marriage by either or both parties
The source of acquisition
The current value and income producing capacity of the property
The debts and liabilities of the parties to the marriage
The present mental and physical health of the parties
The probability of continuing present employment at present earnings or better in the future
Effect of distribution of assets on the ability to pay alimony and child support
Gifts from one spouse to the other during marriage.
Fault is not a factor in determining the equitable distribution.
Any property owned by a husband or wife at the time of the marriage (and any value it gains during the marriage) will remain the separate property of such spouse and will not qualify as an asset for distribution.
All property (even gifts, bequests, or property from devise or descent) acquired during marriage will be distributed.
The statute on its face calls for this.
Acquired by is the key word that sets up this interpretation.
The results of taking the opposite stance would be unjust.
NJ amended the statute shortly after saying that property obtained during marriage by way of gift, bequest, or devise are not eligible for equitable distribution (except for inter-spousal gifts).