Unvested pension benefits were subject to equitable distribution where they were sufficiently concrete, reasonable, justifiable, and constituted presently existing property.
Defendant husband contended that the trial court should have awarded the wife the known present value of the contributions into the pension, which contention the trial court rejected. The court concluded that it was within the trial court's discretion to choose among the present value method, present division method of deferred distribution, or any other valuation method that it deemed appropriate in accordance with state law. On appeal, the state supreme court expressly rejected the reserved jurisdiction method of distribution, as the statutory scheme regarding financial orders appurtenant to dissolution proceedings prohibited the retention of jurisdiction regarding lump sum alimony or the division of the marital estate.
Did the trial court err by dissolving the marriage and granting pension benefits to the ex-wife?
The unvested pension benefits were property subject to equitable distribution. The trial court properly applied the present division method of deferred distribution, delaying distribution, in accordance with the domestic relations order, until the pension came into pay status.