Am I Entitled to My Ex-spouse’s Pension?
Roughly 56% of Americans include a pension or other retirement savings plan as part of their financial assets. Dividing up these sorts of assets in a divorce can be tricky. Whether or not you get part of your ex’s pension will depend on a few factors.
Pensions Are a Joint Asset
Even if your spouse was the only one contributing to the pension, part of it might be your property. Your divorce lawyer can argue for you getting a share of the pension because it’s a joint asset. Over the course of the marriage, you and your spouse’s contributions both went into things like producing children, obtaining a career, and getting home goods. Therefore, any funds that you or your partner got during the marriage are called joint marital property. In a divorce, these joint assets are split up. Depending on the way that you either choose to divide assets or a court issues an order, you can get some of a pension.
You Might Not Get Half of the Pension
Pensions are treated just like any other asset division in Pennsylvania. This means that they are split based on what is equitable and fair. Keep in mind that this doesn’t necessarily mean you automatically get half. Instead, the judge will split any pensions based on factors such as:
- Whether you contributed to the home non-financially, such as helping with child care or cooking
- How long you have been married
- How much money you and your spouse each have
- Your age, health, and ability to work at a job
- Whether you’ll be a custodial parent or not
- Your contributions to the pension or other marital property
Additionally, you might have the option of choosing to forgo your share of the pension in exchange for something else. For example, if you want to keep a car, you and your divorce attorney might offer to relinquish your right to the pension and get the vehicle instead.
Reasons That You Might Not Be Entitled to Some of the Pension
In most cases, a pension is part of joint marital property that needs to be considered during asset division. However, there are a few factors that can keep a pension from being a joint asset. In these cases, the answer to who gets the pension in a divorce will be your ex. You won’t be able to ask for part of it or use it while negotiating for certain property.
The most common reason that you won’t get part of the pension is just that your partner earned it before you were married. When your spouse brings a pension into your marriage, it is their personal property that they get to take when they leave. If they started the pension before your marriage but kept contributing after, you’re only entitled to the portion of the pension accrued after your marriage.
Another reason you might not be entitled to a pension is if you signed a prenuptial agreement. Though judges can throw out prenups for certain reasons, this doesn’t happen often. Typically, if you agreed you wouldn’t take any of your ex’s pension, you can’t. A final reason that you might not get their pension is the type of the account. Some pensions, such as those through the military, may follow a separate set of rules. These can potentially bar the pension owner from splitting the account with an ex. If the owner cannot transfer the pension to anyone else, you might not get any money from it.
Ultimately, most couples who divorce will end up splitting pensions or substituting other assets. However, this sort of asset division can be tricky, so it’s a good idea to discuss your unique situation with a divorce lawyer. At the Law Office of Joanne Kleiner, we take pride in helping people achieve satisfactory divorce outcomes. Our team provides the representation you need during this challenging transition. Call 215-886-1266 or fill out our contact form to schedule a consultation today at our Jenkintown office.
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