Retirement Plans and Your Social Security



Complicated and Technical

This is a topic which is technical, complicated and impossible to describe with the precision it takes to help people do this on their own. Even among experienced divorce attorneys, the crafting of agreements and Orders regarding the allocation and/or division of pensions is something even they prefer to delegate or subcontract to specialists. Here again, however, you need to be aware of the issues. Why? So you can ask the right questions. That is the purpose of that which follows. These are not forms to use without consultation. They are discussion-beginners---not discussion enders!

Retirement Plans Are “Marital” If Accumulated During Marriage

To the extent a retirement plan accumulates benefits during a marriage, the accumulation is normally a part of the “marital estate”. In most states, a Court can divide the marital portion of a retirement plan between the spouses. That may not mean that every retirement plan must be divided equally between the spouses. It usually just means that it CAN be. Like many decisions in divorce cases, that decision is often left to the discretion of the Court. Many employees have a visceral response to a suggestion that their retirement plan might need to be shared. They like to believe that they were the one who scraped and slaved all those late hours, they were the one who put up with that impossible boss, and they are therefore the only one entitled to enjoy the fruits of their labors in the form of my retirement plan(s).

Although that is a normal and common reaction, it is also usually misguided. Retirement benefits are monies earned during the marriage that were diverted away from others in the family.


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