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Splitting A Pension In A Divorce


Many jobs offer some form of a pension to employees. This pension offers retirement benefits to employees on top of Social Security. Depending on how long the employee worked for the company, the pension amount could be substantial, totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars.

If the couple were to split, this pension could be divided in half. In fact, pensions are considered to be joint assets. As such, every state has property division laws allowing for this asset to be split.

It’s important that both parties know about this asset, however, because the split does not happen automatically in a divorce. The court can award you a share of your ex-spouse’s pension, but you have to ask for it. Read on to learn more about the process.

Getting Required Information

First, you need to determine what types of plans your spouse has. A person can have multiple retirement plans, including pensions, 401(k)s and IRAs. You must ask for your share of all the plans.

You will then need to get as much information as possible from the benefits office. This should be easy if you are the beneficiary, but some plans will refuse to give out information without a letter from a lawyer.

You will also need to get in touch with the administrator of the pension plan. Be sure to send a letter explaining that you and your spouse are getting a divorce. Do this as soon as possible, because if you wait, your spouse could take the money out of the account before you get to it.

Getting a QDRO

To get your share of the pension, you will need a court order from the divorce. This is called a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO). The QDRO procedures are different for each plan, so contact the plan administrator or have your lawyer do so. They will probably have forms for you to fill out and simplify the process.


If the court awards you a portion of the pension, a copy of the QDRO must be sent to the plan administrator as soon as possible. It is important that the QDRO includes information that tells the plan administrator who should be paid, the amount that should be paid and at what time. The QDRO must have a legit payment option. For example, some prohibit lump sums, so if this is the case for your spouse’s plan, then the QDRO cannot order the plan administrator to pay a lump sum.

Get Your Fair Share in a Divorce

Divorces can be extremely complicated, especially when the couple has been married for quite some time. There are often many assets involved, and it’s not uncommon for some to get lost in the process.

Let the Dade City family law attorneys at Madonna Law Group will help you get your fair share of pensions and other assets in a divorce. We’ll help identify all the available assets in your divorce. Don’t agree to a tradeoff without consulting with a lawyer first. Schedule your initial consultation today by contacting us at (800) 557-0411.

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