The Associated Press has reported that the wife in an Illinois divorce case—Nancy Riddle v. John Riddle—filed an emergency petition with the court. What was the emergency? The emergency was that her soon-to-be ex-husband had tickets to the Chicago Cubs against the Cleveland Indians in Game 5 of the World Series. He planned to take their 12-year-old son to the game. Both John and Nancy were loyal Cubs fans.
Nancy Riddle held that the situation was an emergency because the Cubs had not taken part in a World Series in 71 years, and if she did not get to see them now, it was likely that she would never have another opportunity.
The judge ruled that John Riddle could keep the two tickets and take their son to the game as planned, but added that he also had to purchase a ticket, which will probably cost at least $3,000, for his wife.
What If This Case Had Taken Place in New Jersey?
Like Illinois, New Jersey is an equitable-distribution state rather than a community-property state. In both states, marital property is divided fairly, but not necessarily equally.
When deciding how to equitably divide property, the court must first determine which property is marital property and which is owned separately. In both Illinois and New Jersey, assets obtained by either spouse after the marriage took place and before either spouse filed for divorce is subject to equitable distribution when the marriage is dissolved. Exceptions are gifts and inheritances.
Important Factors in Riddle v. Riddle
John Riddle acquired the tickets after he married Nancy Riddle and before either of them filed for divorce.
The tickets were neither a gift nor an inheritance.
Therefore, the tickets were marital property.
The judge in this case felt that equitable distribution should involve an additional ticket for Nancy Riddle.
A New Jersey court would also consider the tickets marital property; however, another solution may have been suggested.
Should an Emergency Petition Have Been Filed?
Whether or not the circumstances should have been considered an emergency is more subjective. Did the fact that the Cubs had not taken part in a World Series since 1945 and that it is unlikely that Nancy would have another opportunity to attend a Cubs World Series game warrant the granting of an emergency petition? Opinions will vary. Cubs fans will probably say, “Yes!”
Do you have questions about marital property and property distribution in a New Jersey divorce? The experienced attorneys at Aretsky Law Group, P.C., can answer questions regarding these and other divorce and family-law issues. For an initial consultation, call us 24/7 at 800-537-4154.