ANDERSON v. ANDERSON (App Div., 4th Dep’t)

Incorporated in the judgment of divorce, the parties had an oral stipulation of settlement which included a provision that entitled the plaintiff-husband to an interest in the defendant-wife’s master degree but did not stipulate to the valuation of the degree.  Nine years after the entry of the judgment of divorce, husband moved to recover his interest in the wife’s master degree which she earned during the course of the marriage.

Husband had an accountant value the wife’s enhanced earnings capacity due to her master’s degree.  Wife contested the valuation of her master’s degree and the extent of the husband’s marital interest.  The Supreme Court denied the husband’s motions on grounds that there was “no enforceable stipulation” with respect to the degree.

The Appellate Court determined the Supreme Court erred in their denial of husband’s motion.  The Supreme Court could not determine if the stipulation was enforceable without the wife commencing a plenary action challenging the stipulations enforceability.  As the wife only contested the valuation and the extent of the husband’s marital interest, the Appellate Court reversed the Supreme Court’s denial of the husband’s motion and remitted the matter to the Supreme Court for a hearing to determine the value of the husband’s interest in the wife’s master degree.