The decision of divorce and its allied matters include one oft-underrated issue which poses maximum challenges before any divorce-bound couple. That is, settlement, of pensions, insurance covers, maintenance, alimony, child support, joint savings account, and other financial instruments. You must have the legal know-how of the schemes and pensions of your spouse so that you can get what you rightfully deserve after all the time you spent as a couple. Pensions and divorce are definitely not rocket science. Given below is a ready reckoner of the points to be taken into consideration during the divorce proceedings.
- You also have a stake in the pension earned by your spouse during your marriage. The funds that you jointly set aside for use after retirement are your property, too. This is irrespective of whose salary provided the funds accumulated as pension, as it was saved for use as a married couple. This includes, but is not limited to, pension offered by an employer on the basis of number of years you served in organization, 401K contribution that got deducted from your cost-to-company (C2C) salary amount, the earnings in the form of interest, dividend that piled up during marriage, and other capital gains. Make sure you properly understand the laws governing division of marital property in your state of residence. Also tread with caution, as your spouse might find ways to give you a smaller or much lesser portion of the amount you actually deserve.
- Complete the paperwork and document formalities in a timely manner. For you to receive your rightful stake in the pension(s), you must pro-actively seek the requisite documents from your spouse’s company benefits office soon after the decision to part ways. Yes, not at the time your spouse retires. You might have to seek your lawyer’s intervention in procuring these documents, which you are entitled to, as a beneficiary.
- Understand the QDRO. Shed the habit of making assumptions and do avail your share from your spouse’s pension by acquiring a special court order called Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). Then, promptly submit it to the spouse’s pension plan administrator for his perusal. Let the QDRO guide the administrator on how to divide the money contained in the retirement account. Some federal, state, municipal and military plans have separately listed rules for this purpose.
- Pull out all the stops. Read up and find out about spouse’s retirement assets from other sources, such as social security schemes and plans. Don’t hesitate to ask for your share in all the possible pensions by being aware and involved.
One may choose to take the help of a financial analyst in case he/she has difficulty understanding jargon and complicated finer details regarding pensions and divorce. Any divorce-seeker who is mindful of the importance of having a safe and secure financial future will surely take the right steps at the right time so as to ensure that he/she utilizes all the rights and entitlements in the most comprehensive way.