The BBC has recently reported that Cristiano Ronoldo, the soccer superstar, has given his agent a Greek Island for a wedding gift. While a Greek island may not be the typical wedding gift for most couples, the question of how the wedding gifts are divided in the event of a divorce certainly comes up often.
New Jersey, as well as the majority of states, considers all property that was acquired during the marriage to be subject to equitable distribution. This includes property which is obtained in contemplation of the marriage. Many clients like to take the position that she gets whatever gifts came from her side of the aisle and he gets whatever gifts came from his side of the aisle. Well, if the parties agree to this, fine. But if not, it’s all up for grabs. This does not mean you have to break up the 12 place setting of Lenox, but there has to be a fair distribution. So maybe one gets the Lenox and the other gets the Waterford Crystal.
Dividing personal property can be one of the most emotional parts of a marriage’s demise. It’s one of those “hit you in the face,” “this is really happening” moments of the divorce. Unfortunately, it is a component of the divorce which can be used as a means to show the anger and hurt of the dissolution. When one spouse knows that something is meaningful to the other, it is sometimes used as a weapon.
That having been said, equitable distribution does not mean equal distribution. Rather, other factors will be taken into consideration when determining what a reasonable distribution of property, including wedding gifts, is. One factor which may be important is how soon after the wedding is the termination of the marriage occurring. In a situation in which a marriage falls apart shortly after the nuptials, it may be appropriate to have a disproportionate distribution of assets, including wedding gifts. On the other hand, 10 years and two kids later, the more equal distribution may likely occur.
Getting through distribution of property can be difficult for all involved. This includes the parties, the lawyers, the judges, and the children. Hopefully, a cool Meltemi Greek wind will blow in the right direction and calm things down rather than churn them up.