Stephen Painter (plaintiff) and Joan Painter (defendant) were married in 1953 and lived together until 1967. Stephen filed for divorce in 1970, claiming that the Painters had lived separately and apart for more than 18 months with irreconcilable differences. The trial court granted the divorce and entered an order requiring Stephen to make alimony and child-support payments to Joan. This calculation was based upon the trial court’s interpretation of recently enacted state law that granted the court the power to determine the valuation and equitable distribution of assets to each party. The Supreme Court of New Jersey granted certification to provide guidance on the new equitable-distribution statutes.