Who Gets The Pension In A Divorce?
While pensions are not as common as they once were, many employees, particularly teachers, military, law enforcement, nurses, union workers and government employees, still receive a pension after they retire.
Attorney Jeffrey N. Greenblatt of Joseph, Greenwald & Laake, PA, has extensive experience, more than 45 years, helping clients understand their rights and obligations when it comes to dividing a pension in a divorce. Call 240-406-7311 to speak with Jeff about your situation.
The Difference Between A Pension And A 401(k)
Pension plans are set and guaranteed monetary payouts, called “defined-benefit plans.” The employer contributes the entire amount of the pension. In a 401(k), the employee must contribute to the plan while they work and then will be able to access those funds and any employer-matched funds upon retirement.
Who Owns The Pension?
If a couple is married and during that time one spouse works at a job where they earn a pension, then it is typical that the pension will be viewed as marital property. This is particularly true in cases where one spouse worked at a job and the other spouse worked in the home, raising children and supporting the family.
In cases where a couple marries later in life, and one spouse worked for many years at a job that offered a pension prior to the marriage, then that pension may be considered separate property. In cases where there is a clear agreement that the pension is separate, such as in a prenuptial agreement, then the pension is likely going to be viewed by the court as separate.
Pensions are not always divided. There are often other ways to divide assets equitably that do not require the division of one spouse’s pension. If a pension is to be divided, a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) will need to be created and, once the divorce is final, approved by a judge. The QDRO is then submitted to the plan administrator.
Special Cases: World Bank And IMF Employees
Employees of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have uniquely structured pension funds that are different from other pensions when it comes to division after a divorce. The pensions are not subject to United States law even though the employee may live and work in Maryland. Counsel regarding these funds requires guidance from an attorney familiar and experienced with them.
Work With An Attorney Experienced In Pension Plans
Unfortunately, because pension plans are not that common anymore, not all attorneys are familiar with how to handle them. QDROs require experience and skill. Jeff Greenblatt has decades of experience and can guide and advise you through this process. Call 240-406-7311 or connect with Jeff via website inquiry email.