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Painter v. Painter

Decided: February 16, 1972.

STEPHEN J. PAINTER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JOAN PAINTER, DEFENDANT



Consodine, J.c.c. (temporarily assigned).

Consodine

There remains the question of equitable distribution of property legally and beneficially acquired by them or either of them during the marriage. N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23.

Plaintiff's total assets are approximately $230,509, in stocks and cash, in a half-interest in the tenancy by the entirety, and in furnishings and fixtures of the home. Of this, $142,937.50 was owned prior to marriage, inherited or came by way of gift. The one-half interest in the tenancy by the entirety is valued at $21,750 and the one-half interest in the furnishings and fixtures of the home at $5,000.

Defendant's total assets are approximately $99,709 in stocks and cash. Of this, $35,000 was owned prior to the

marriage or came by way of gift. Of the balance, her interest in the realty is $21,750, in the furnishings and fixtures of the home $5,000, and in jewelry $1,510, the appraisal value.

The personal factors relevant to this particular case that must be considered are: (1) the marriage is now nearly 19 years in duration; (2) the parties lived together 14 of these years; (3) the three children are 16, 14 and 9 years of age; (4) they will continue to live with defendant; (5) defendant is recovering from a recent operation for cancer, and (6) her prognosis must be deemed guarded.

Our statutory provision concerning distribution of property is desolate of factors to be considered by a court. In this regard it is not unlike the statutes of other jurisdictions and not dissimilar to the amendment of 1923 to our Divorce Law which made extreme cruelty (in those two words) a ground for divorce, without definition except as our courts thereafter might define. See Capozzoli v. Capozzoli , 1 N.J. 540 (1949); Stutz v. Stutz , 139 N.J. Eq. 385 (E. & A. 1947).

Our evaluation of determinative factors for consideration, like those of the courts of sister states with like statutes, must be pragmatic and realistic.

We are fortunate to have the benefit of opinions of others.

Guideline criteria over the broad spectrum of litigation in this area include: (1) respective age, background and earning ability of the parties; (2) duration of the marriage; (3) the standard of living of the parties during the marriage; (4) what money or property each brought into the marriage; (5) the present income of the parties; (6) the property acquired during the marriage by either or both parties; (7) the source of acquisition; (8) the current value and income producing capacity of the property; (9) the debts and liabilities of the parties to the marriage; (10) the present mental and physical health of the parties; (11) the probability of continuing present employment at present earnings or better in the future; (12) effect of distribution of assets on the ability to pay alimony and support, and (13) gifts from one spouse to the other during marriage.

Generally see Messer v. Messer , 184 N.W. 2d 801 (Minn. Sup. Ct. 1971); Fischer v. Fischer , 139 N.W. 2d 845 (N. Dak. Sup. Ct. 1966); MacDonald v. MacDonald , 120 Utah 573, 236 P. 2d 1066 (Sup. Ct. 1951); Tischler, "Distribution of Property upon Divorce," 94 N.J.L.J 1109 (1971). See also, Carson v. Carson , 50 Haw. 182, 436 P. 2d 7 (Hawaii ...


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