On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Somerset County, No. FM-18-929-98.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Wefing, Parker and Yannotti.
Defendant appeals from a post-judgment order entered by the trial court. After reviewing the record in light of the contentions advanced on appeal, we reverse and remand for further proceedings.
The parties were married in 1980 and divorced pursuant to a judgment of divorce entered on February 8, 1999, which incorporated their property settlement agreement. The parties had three children during the marriage, the oldest of whom is now emancipated. Their second child was born in 1988 and had just started college at the time plaintiff filed her post-judgment motion in October 2007. The third child, born in 1992, was fifteen at the time.
At the time of the divorce, defendant was employed by Prudential Insurance Company and entitled to participate in its Long Term Incentive Plan ("LTIP"), a program open to executive and senior investment officers and managing directors that was designed to tie the compensation of the participants to multi-year results and thus covered five-year performance cycles. A participant would be awarded "performance shares," the value of which would fluctuate in accordance with the performance of a participant's business unit. A participant's shares could not be redeemed until the end of the five-year cycle, save for death, disability, retirement or downsizing. In the event of a participant's death, disability, retirement or downsizing prior to the completion of a five-year cycle, a participant's distribution would be "prorated to reflect the number of completed months of service in the five-year performance period." A participant had no right to accelerate the time of distribution and, according to a memorandum from the Director of Prudential's Human Resources Department to defendant dated February 3, 2003, a participant in a LTIP did not have a right, on any particular date, to distribution of the amounts allocated to his participation.
Defendant was terminated from his position with Prudential in 1999. At the time of his termination, he held participation shares in five LTIPs:
1) for the years 1994-1998, with a payout year of 1999;
2) for the years 1995-1999, with a payout year of 2000;
3) for the years 1996-2000, with a payout year of 2001;
4) for the years 1997-2001, with a payout year of 2002; and
5) for the years 1998-2002, with a payout year of 2003.
Paragraph 31E of the property settlement agreement made the following provision for the equitable distribution of defendant's ...