On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Warren County.
Before Judges Long, Stern & Kleiner.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Long, P.j.a.d.
Plaintiff Linda Reinbold and defendant Frank Reinbold were married on October 29, 1960. Two children were born to them, both of whom are emancipated. After thirty-four years of marriage, plaintiff filed a complaint for divorce on June 20, 1994. At the time the complaint was filed defendant was 55 years old and had 28 years of service at Sandoz Pharmaceuticals ("Sandoz").
The parties entered into a Property Settlement Agreement which was incorporated into the final judgment of divorce on May 13, 1996. Among other provisions, the defendant agreed to pay plaintiff permanent alimony and the parties agreed to equally divide the marital assets. Paragraph 27 of the Property Settlement Agreement addressed the equitable distribution of defendant's pension which had been accrued through his employment with Sandoz:
27. The Husband has a pension plan through his employer, Sandoz. The Wife shall receive 50% of all of the benefits the Husband acquired in this pension from the date of marriage to the date of Complaint by way of a Domestic Relations Order. By virtue of the long term marriage, the Wife shall be named as a Joint Survivor on any Pre-retirement survivor annuity as well as on any post-retirement survivor annuity, accrued from the date of marriage to the date of the complaint for divorce, if permitted by the pension plan.
Under the Sandoz retirement plan (the "Plan"), defendant could take normal retirement at age 62. The basic retirement benefit was to be calculated based upon defendant's average annual compensation and years of credited service (maximum 40 years) with a Social Security offset.
The Plan defined these terms as follows:
Average Annual Compensation
Your average annual compensation is initially based on your total compensation paid over the last ten calendar years preceding your date of retirement. From this ten-year period, your total compensation over the five highest possible average, is extracted and averaged. Total compensation is all compensation paid you in the form of salary and wages, overtime, shift premium, bonus and commissions. [example omitted].
Credited Service is used to determine the amount of your benefits under the Plan. Credited service is accounted for in years and months.
All service rendered by you to the company prior to your sixty-fifth birthday will be recognized as credited service, up to a maximum of forty years. If you terminate your employment with Sandoz and return to the company at a later date, or if in the past you terminated employment with the company and have since been rehired, all prior service rendered by you to the company will be recognized as credited service. However, your prior service will be recognized only after you have completed one year of continuous service since your most recent date of hire.
Primary Social Security Benefit
Your Primary Social Security Benefit is the Social Security Benefit to which you alone are entitled, and does not include any benefits applicable to your spouse and/or dependents.
The Social Security benefit on which your Social Security offset will be based will be determined by reference to actuarial tables supplied by the Retirement Plan Actuary. The use of these tables is intended to develop Social Security benefit values which closely approximate those an employee is likely to receive based on his/her final average compensation at Sandoz. These tables do not necessarily represent the exact actual Social Security benefit to which you are entitled.
Basic Retirement Benefit Formula
The Basic Retirement Benefit Formula is:
l l/2% of your Average AnnualCompensation times your Years of Credited Service minus l l/4% of your Primary Social SecurityBenefit times your Years of Credited Service.
The calculation of defendant's pension benefit was to take place at retirement because it depended on his length of service, his average annual compensation and his Social Security benefit at that time. Other benefits were also available including an early ...