Can a One-Time Benefit Offered After the Date of Marital Seperation Be Considered Marital Asset ?
In LaBuda v. LaBuda, 349 Pa. Super. 524, 503 A.2d 971 (1986), the Superior Court held that a special one-time benefit offered to the employee-spouse after the date of marital separation should not be considered a marital asset, if that one-time benefit does not affect the parties' anticipated pension benefit.
Mr. LaBuda was offered a special retirement program in April of 1983, whereby he would receive twenty-one monthly payments in exchange for retiring by July 31, 1983.
Participation in the program would not alter his regular pension benefit.
The employer offered the special program to Mr. LaBuda almost three years after the parties had separated.
In determining that the benefit should not be considered marital property, the Superior Court focused on the expectations of the parties.
"To the extent that a property right 'accrues' or 'arises' during the marriage, then, the spouses expect they will enjoy the property when they receive it." Id. at 533, 503 A.2d at 976.
Mrs. LaBuda "could not have expected to enjoy the benefit. . . because neither party had any idea that Mr. LaBuda would receive the payments until after they separated." Id. at 534, 503 A.2d at 976.