17 Aug I’m divorced. Can I claim a pension that wasn’t disclosed?
Q. I’m 63 and divorced in 2015 after 39 years of marriage. I was the breadwinner. I paid two years of alimony, incurred all of the debt, and as part of the equitable distribution, I got my pension plans. My ex turned 66 this year and a packet arrived at my home from his employer regarding a $40,000 pension fund. He does not know he has it. Can I lay a claim on it?
A. You have two options if you want to lay claim to an undisclosed marital asset after the divorce is finalized.
Your first option is to file a motion to reopen the Final Judgment of Divorce.
“R. 4:50-1, and its subparts, recite several reasons why a court may relieve a party from a final judgment of divorce, including but not limited to `mistake.’ ‘newly discovered evidence’ and `fraud,’ among other reasons,” said Victoria Paone Rosa, a family law attorney with Paone, Zaleski & Murphy in Red Bank.
She said parties looking to reopen a final judgment of divorce must read R. 4:50-1 carefully because there is a time limit for filing a motion under some of the grounds pursuant to this rule.
For example, she said, this rule provides that parties have one year from the date of the divorce to file a motion to reopen the final judgment of divorce due to “newly discovered evidence.”
The second avenue you may pursue in order to lay claim to an undisclosed marital asset, Paone Rosa said.
She said there is a “catchall provision” in many matrimonial settlement agreements prepared by attorneys to address situations like this.
“For example, a matrimonial settlement agreements may provide that if it is later discovered that either party has an interest in an undisclosed asset, then the harmed spouse shall automatically receive a share of that asset,” Paone Rosa said. “Accordingly, you will want to review your matrimonial settlement agreement in order to ascertain if you have this ‘catchall provision’ that you could enforce in court.”
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This story was originally published on Aug. 17, 2020.
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