It is possible for you to lose a portion of your pension in divorce, but with the right family law help and advice, you can limit how much your spouse will get. If you were married when contributions started, the pension is considered marital property. Because of this, both spouses have a right to a percentage of the pension. While it is not automatically divided, if your spouse includes it in the suit, it will become part of the property division in divorce proceedings. Speaking to one of our expert family law professionals is the number one way to stop your spouse from taking your entire pension or other retirement savings accounts!
Save Your Pension in Divorce!
One exception to having the pension, or at least a part of the pension, excluded from marital property in divorce would be if your contributions started prior to being married. This is something that you should consult with your divorce attorney about to see what if any of the pension can be classified as non-marital property. Another would be if both parties have their own pensions and they agree to leave pensions out of the divorce settlement altogether.
If your spouse has multiple pensions or retirement accounts, such as a 401k, every account must be noted individually or it will not be included in the settlement. Since you are a beneficiary of the account, you are entitled to all information from the benefits office. Please note, though, that it will more than likely take documentation from your attorney to have the information released.
When including these types of accounts in a divorce settlement, it is important to notify the plan administrator as soon as you make the decision to file. You do this to block any funds from being removed from the plan until the divorce is finalized. This prevents your spouse from emptying the accounts prior to the divorce hearing.
For divorcees with widow or survivor benefits, this will not be affected by the divorce. As long as the pension was set up in this manner, you are still entitled to your benefits once your ex spouse is deceased. Again, though, this must be clarified in the divorce settlement.
Once the agreement has been reached, you will need to obtain a QDRO for the pension plan benefits administrator. This order will contain all information needed for the plan administrator to issue benefits when the time comes. To be sure you have the proper forms and all of your paperwork is in order, it is best to bring this up with the plan administrator when your attorney contacts them about the initial divorce proceedings. A free consultation with an experienced divorce attorney is a simple as connecting with us!