It has long been held that in order to equitably distribute a State pension (or other defined benefit pension), you apply a percentage of the coverture fraction to determine what the non-employed spouse shall receive upon the employed spouse’s retirement. The coverture fraction is determined with the numerator being the number of years and months the spouse was employed during the marriage, and the denominator is the number of years and months that the spouse is employed in total. Then, the equitable distribution percentage is applied to that fraction.
For example, if the Husband worked for the State of New Jersey during the marriage for 11 years, but works an additional 25 years after the marriage, the numerator would be 11 and the denominator would be 36 (11+ 25). If the ex-Wife is entitled to 50% of this fraction, she would be entitled to 15% (11/36 x 50%) of the Husband’s ultimate monthly pension benefit upon retirement.
A question has arisen in the case of Krupinski v. Krupinski as to whether the ex-Husband still has to pay alimony once he retires and his ex-Wife starts receiving her portion of his pension. Under the facts of this case, the Husband was earning $46,000 at the date of the divorce and was obligated to pay the Wife $100 per week in alimony. Twenty years later, when the Husband retired, he was earning over $132,000 based on his further education and experience over those post-marital years. His monthly pension benefit is based on his highest three years of salary which came well after the divorce. As a result of applying the coverture fraction, the ex-Wife was entitled to $1,871 per month from the ex-Husband’s pension. The Husband applied to the court to terminate his alimony obligation, and the lower court denied his application, stating that he had to continue to pay the alimony.
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