How to Negotiate Pension Rights in a Divorce

By Anna Assad

You might have rights to your spouse's pension plan during divorce. State divorce laws and the pension plan's rules commonly decide what you're entitled to receive. Some states consider pensions martial property, making the funds subject to the state's property division laws. Other states don't allow a spouse to touch the other spouse's pension, or only consider it under certain circumstances. Negotiating your rights to your spouse's pension during a divorce helps you get what you're entitled to receive; however, you must do some research first, so you don't lose out.

Step 1

Check state divorce laws. Write down the laws that apply to your case.

Step 2

Check the retirement plan's rules. Contact the plan's administrator -- usually the payroll or human resources supervisor at your spouse's place of employment -- and ask for information about the plan. Make copies of plan information you have, if any. Write down the rules that apply to your case.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Step 3

Estimate the current value of the pension. Check the pension plan documents for the current value of the pension, usually determined by the length of your spouse's employment from the date he became eligible for the pension.

Step 4

Estimate the future value of the pension. Review the pension plan documents to calculate a total value for the pension. Consider your spouse's expected retirement age -- typically 65 -- and life expectancy. Life expectancy is around 78 at time of publication, but race, location, current age and gender impact life expectancy. Multiply the monthly payment amount your spouse will receive at retirement age by the number of months he's expected to live after he starts collecting to get an estimate.

Step 5

Make a settlement offer using your notes on state laws, plan rules and your estimates. Consider what you're actually entitled to receive and the pension's values when making an offer. Include references to your estimated values, state laws and the plan rules to support your offer. Review any counteroffers from your spouse as needed.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
Health Insurance Laws During Divorce in Texas


Related articles

Federal Retirement Benefits for Divorced Spouses

Divorce can impact various types of retirement benefits, making some retirement savings accounts eligible for division and effecting the divorced spouse's eligibility for others. Federal retirement systems generally permit state courts to split federal pensions as part of a divorce, but survivor benefits and Social Security benefits have special rules.

How to Divide Pension Income in a Divorce in Illinois

Illinois couples must split their assets as part of their divorce, and these assets can include many types of retirement plans as well as assets like cash, real estate and personal property. If a divorcing couple cannot reach agreement on how to divide a pension or other asset, the court must decide the issue for them.

New York State Health Insurance Rules When Getting a Divorce

New York does not require health insurers to provide health insurance for divorced spouses, so one spouse may lose health insurance when she divorces if she was covered by her husband’s plan. New York law even requires divorcing spouses to acknowledge they are aware they will no longer be allowed to receive health care coverage under a former spouse’s insurance plan once the divorce is final.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

Divorce Retirement Questions in Michigan

If you're divorcing in Michigan, you may have questions about how your retirement plan and that of your soon to be ...

How to Split the Pension in a Divorce

Unlike other retirement accounts, dividing a pension is often difficult because it’s hard to place a value on what the ...

How to Divide Deferred Compensation Accounts in a Divorce

Dividing tax-sheltered assets, such as deferred compensation accounts, in a divorce requires care. Many couples realize ...

How to Buy Out an Ex in a Divorce

You've worked hard for what you have, and divorce can make you feel like you're losing everything. If you want to keep ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED