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Pellegrino v. Pellegrino

Decided: June 9, 1975.

MARY ANN PELLEGRINO, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
ALBERT J. PELLEGRINO, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT



Leonard, Seidman and Bischoff. The opinion of the court was delivered by Leonard, P.J.A.D.

Leonard

The parties were married on September 10, 1955. On October 19, 1972 plaintiff wife filed a complaint for divorce seeking, among other things, equitable distribution of all real and personal property. Although the matter was originally contested, defendant withdrew his opposition thereto and plaintiff submitted uncontested proof of her divorce action. Additionally, the parties agreed upon an equitable distribution of their property, with the exception of plaintiff's interest, if any, in a pension plan held by defendant as a fireman in the Town of Bloomfield. That issue, by the terms of the judgment of divorce dated July 27, 1973, was "reserved for further hearing."

On April 4, 1973 a hearing was held at which the parties stipulated that defendant (presently 45 years of age) was employed as a fireman in Bloomfield from 1962 to the date of the hearing. Both he and his employer contributed to a pension plan. Thereafter, with the consent of the parties, defendant obtained and filed a letter from the Department of Treasury, Division of Pensions, which indicated that as of October 1972 (when the complaint herein was filed) defendant's pension contribution was $5917.26 and that "These

monies are returnable to the member should he resign or be dismissed prior to qualifying for a benefit."

The trial court determined that plaintiff was not entitled to participate in the funds contributed by defendant because there had been "no vesting" thereof in him since he had not either resigned or been dismissed. An appropriate judgment was entered and plaintiff appeals.

On this appeal, plaintiff, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23, seeks an equitable distribution of the sum of $5917.26 contributed by defendant to the pension plan. She asserts that this sum was "legally and beneficially acquired by them or either of them during the marriage."

At the outset we specifically note that plaintiff seeks an equitable distribution of defendant's contribution to the pension plan. She does not seek a distribution of the ultimate sum to be paid to defendant upon retirement.

N.J.S.A. 43:16A-1 et seq. (Police and Firemen's Retirement System) governs all of the rights and obligations of municipal firemen with respect to contributions, retirement and pensions. The following statutory definitions and distinctions are material to the issue herein involved:

"Aggregate contributions" shall mean the sum of all the amounts, deducted from the compensation of a member or contributed by him or on his behalf, standing to the credit of his individual account in the annuity savings fund. [ N.J.S.A. 43:16A-1(10)]

"Annuity" shall mean payments for life derived from the aggregate contributions of a member. [(11)]

"Pension" shall mean payments for life derived from contributions by ...


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