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New Jersey Supreme Court considers post-divorce bonus for ex-wife

A New Jersey Supreme Court justice read the panel's unanimous ruling in the divorce case Thieme v. Aucoin-Thieme in an open session on Monday, Dec. 12, 2016. The brief outlined the judge's decision that a constructive trust be set up to protect a $2.25 million bonus the woman's husband received post-divorce pending future hearings surrounding how much, if any, of that fortune the ex-wife is entitled to.

Oral arguments in the matter began on Sept. 26, 2016. The pair was married just 14 months, despite having conceived a child together during the eight years they lived together prior to their marriage. The husband worked over 90 hours a week, leaving little time to devote to his family. Of the little time they did spend together, the ex-wife allegedly spent a majority of it belittling of the defendant for working long hours with little pay.

Arguments in front of the state's highest court centered around whether the ex-wife was entitled to an equitable distribution of assets from the last 14 months they were legally married or the eight years they had been living as a family unit instead. Earlier lower court decisions had ruled against the ex-wife on the grounds that she was only entitled to assets amassed during their brief marriage.

During the course of oral arguments in front of Supreme Court Justices, the ex-husband admitted that his ex-wife had played a significant role in helping advance his career. He also admitted that the recently divorced exes had openly discussed the financial windfall the couple would receive if the husband were to sell his interest in the biotechnology consulting startup he had been working for.

In their decision, the state's highest court cited the long-term, pre-nuptial relationship as one of the many reasons why the defendant was potentially entitled to her own share of his bonus. The ex-wife is seeking $200,029 denied by the lower courts as well as $30,228 previously awarded by a Hudson County Superior Court judge in this case.

Disputes like this, especially when it comes to high asset divorces, are not all that uncommon. If you are thinking about filing for divorce, consult with a New Jersey divorce attorney who will help you make sense of the best way to protect your assets or lay claim to your fair share of what you feel you are owed.

Source: New Jersey Law Journal, "Justices order constructive trust in dispute over $2.25M post-divorce bonus," Michael Booth, Dec. 12, 2016

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