On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Hunterdon County, Docket No. FM-10-151-05.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Fisher and Sapp-Peterson.
In this post-judgment dispute over defendant's obligation to pay to plaintiff, as part of his alimony obligation, fifty percent of his annual bonuses, plaintiff appeals from that part of the trial court's order declining to treat defendant's stock options as bonuses, declining to award plaintiff post-judgment interest on the bonuses the court determined plaintiff was entitled to receive, and declining to impose sanctions in the form of counsel fees based upon defendant's failure to disclose the full amount of his bonuses. The court interpreted the parties' Inter-spousal Agreement (ISA) as not intending to include, as bonuses, stock options or restricted stock grants. In declining to award post-judgment interest, the court noted that it did "not have a beginning date [from] which to begin calculating interest." Finally, although the court awarded $500 in counsel fees in connection with the enforcement portions of the motion, it declined to award additional counsel fees as a sanction, finding that the imposition of sanctions was not warranted. We affirm.
The record before the court disclosed that the parties entered into the ISA on October 22, 2004 and it was subsequently incorporated into the Final Judgment of Divorce. At the time the parties entered into the ISA, defendant was employed by Aventis, where he earned bonuses and stock options. Paragraph 3.4 of ISA provides:
In addition to his base salary, Husband
typically receives bonuses which vary from year to year. Wife shall be entitled to one-half (1/2) of Husband's gross bonuses payable as alimony in addition to that provided in 3.1 which shall be taxable as income to her and deductible by the Husband. Commencing in 2005 and each year thereafter, Husband shall provide Wife with proof of his bonus income and make payment directly to Wife. Husband's bonus income shall not be utilized in calculating either parties' [sic] child support obligation.
The ISA also addressed stock options in Paragraph 4.3:
Stock Options: Husband was granted various stock options from 1999 through 2003. Options granted in 1999 and 2000 are vested and could be exercised. Options granted in 2001, 2002 and 2003 are not vested. Husband agrees to sell 50% of the shares from 1999 to 2003 when directed by Wife, provided Husband is otherwise entitled or able to exercise such options.
The parties agree that Wife is entitled to the net proceeds (after payment of all taxes and costs related to their sale based on Husband's marginal tax rates) of all options exercised by Husband on her behalf.
Husband shall make payment to her of her share of the proceeds within fifteen (15) days of receipt of same.
In accordance with the ISA, defendant paid plaintiff fifty percent of the cash bonuses he received after deducting Social Security and Medicare taxes for the years 2005 and 2006. In 2006, defendant commenced employment at Integra Life Sciences, where he also earned bonuses and stock options. Defendant received his bonus for 2007 in March of that year but did not at any time during 2007 pay plaintiff her fifty percent share. Plaintiff filed a motion to enforce litigant's rights on April 2, 2008, seeking enforcement of the ISA provision governing bonuses for the years 2006, 2007 and 2008 along with post- judgment interest, limited discovery and counsel fees. Five days later, defendant paid plaintiff $37,417.92, which amount represented plaintiff's share of defendant's 2007 and 2008 bonuses.
In her moving papers, plaintiff argued that she was entitled to fifty percent of the gross amount of defendant's bonuses rather than fifty percent of the net amount that defendant received. The trial court agreed and, in its April 28 order, ordered defendant to pay an additional $4,859.99. The court disagreed that ...