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Can you claim your spouse’s pension in a divorce?

On Behalf of | Dec 16, 2021 | Divorce

Your spouse is a high-level executive, and they have a very good pension. It is going to make it possible for you to retire with quite a high standard of living, even though you’re not putting aside all that much money yourself. You knew when you got married that this pension would help you and your spouse retire.

However, your spouse has recently asked for a divorce. You’ve been out of the workforce for the last two decades, so there’s no realistic way that you’re going to get a job, much less one that has this type of retirement plan. But your spouse has technically not retired yet, and they’re not receiving that pension. Does this mean that your retirement plans have been derailed?

Using a Qualified Domestic Relations Order

There is good news, and it is that you may be able to claim some of the pension, when your former spouse eventually begins to collect it. You can do this as part of the property division process, even though they don’t have that money in hand yet. You simply set up an agreement that states that, when they do start getting the monthly payments, you will get a portion of those payments.

This legal agreement is called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, or a QDRO. Exactly how much money you’re going to get with the use of the QDRO depends on a lot of different factors, such as the total value of the pension, how long your spouse has worked there, whether or not you have a prenuptial agreement and the length of your marriage – just to name a few.

That said, after it gets set up, the Qualified Domestic Relations Order guarantees that you’re going to get your portion of the pension when your former spouse retires. You may need to go through and consider exactly how this will allow you to retire, as you’re not going to get 100% of the pension and you may have fewer assets than you planned on while you were married, but you’re also not going to be left with nothing simply because your spouse decided to ask for a divorce later in life.

As you can imagine, it’s very important to explore all of your legal options and to know exactly how to get things set up. Your future and your retirement both hang in the balance, so be sure you know what steps to take.