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Understanding how pensions relate to divorce

The divorce rate has declined in recent years. However, the institution is still alive and well throughout the country, particularly in Cambridge, Ohio. In this city, the divorced population equals 20.7%, making it the highest in the state. 

There is much to consider in a divorce, and you need to keep one eye toward the future. If your spouse earns a pension, then you have entitlements to that, too. You do not want to wait until your spouse retires. You need to bring it to the court's attention immediately, or else you could lose out on important benefits. 

Your spouse's retirement benefits are property

Everything you and your spouse accumulate throughout the marriage is marital property. This includes any retirement benefits, including a pension or 401(k). Those assets are subject to division in a divorce, and you do not want to overlook them. In fact, it may serve in your benefit to get more retirement benefits rather than other items you may have your eye on. 

You must submit the proper paperwork

The division of retirement benefits does not happen automatically. You need to submit specific paperwork to ensure that you receive your fair share. This includes sending a notification to the pension plan administrator informing him or her of the upcoming divorce. You may need to contact multiple administrators if your spouse has several pension plans. 

Obtain a Qualified Domestic Relations Order

Obtaining a portion of a pension is critical for non-working spouses. Even if you have plans to re-enter the workforce, a pension can help immensely in retirement. You need to make sure you obtain a QDRO from the court. This will direct the administrator on how you should receive your benefits. It also allows for money to go into your retirement account or IRA without any penalty fees. A QDRO is a complicated form, so make sure to talk with your attorney about how to fill one out. 

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