How might my benefit package affect my divorce?

Many New Jersey residents may receive generous benefits from their employers. Many people receive things like health care, 401(k) plans and other retirement funds. Some people, including many civil servants, receive pensions.

In some cases, other perks, like guaranteed bonuses, stock options, and the like, may be available to employees.

During a high-asset divorce, including a divorce from bed and board, benefits may come in to play in a number of ways.

For one, the court may consider these benefits marital property subject to an equitable division. What this means is that there may be arguments about whether a retirement account should be considered marital property and to what extent.

A couple may also have to negotiate a fair and equitable division of a retirement account, as New Jersey does not require a court to divide a divorcing couple’s property down the middle.

Moreover, especially when it comes to things like stock options and pensions and other hard to quantify accounts, the biggest issue may be over how much a retirement count or other fund is worth in today’s dollars.

Finally, there can be practical problems with dividing up these sorts of accounts. Retirement plans will frequently require a special court order called a qualified domestic relations order. Drafting these types of orders require some special handling and have many pitfalls.

Likewise, many of these benefits can affect a parent’s child support obligation. In New Jersey, child support depends heavily on each parent’s income.

For the purposes of child support, income includes a lot of different forms of compensation people might not include as part of their salaries.  Mandatory bonuses, use of certain perks like a company car and other benefits may get counted as income, which in turn can increase a parent’s overall support obligation.