A pension earned during a marriage is a typically considered a joint asset of both spouses in a Florida divorce. A Florida divorce court will decide how and whether pensions are divided. If a court does decide to divide a pension in a divorce, it usually must be done at the time of the divorce when all of the other assets are being divided.
Typically, pension rights, either vested or unvested, are split equally between the parties. However, if you want to withdraw them early, it can be a complex process to try to avoid facing penalties and/or additional taxes because of the early withdrawal.
In order for the pension benefits to be paid directly to divorced spouses, the court order dividing the pension must meet certain requirements. If it does meet those requirements, it is called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, or QDRO. Typically, payments can be made for the lifetime of the employee, and also after death.
In some state, city, and county retirement plans, they are forbidden from making payments directly to a former spouse. Dividing a pension can be complicated and the rules can vary a lot, depending on the circumstances and when the divorce occurred. Many couples who are divorcing overlook the pension, with retirement being far into the future.
However, pensions are worth fighting for – aside from the house, retirement assets, which include 401k plans, are usually the largest asset in a marriage. If a spouse forgets to fight for a part of his or her ex-spouse’s retirement plan during the divorce, he or she can’t try to claim a part of it later.
Divorce And Pension Rights In New Port Richey
If you are divorcing in Florida and you have questions about your right to a spouse’s pension, call New Port Richey, Florida divorce attorney Dale Bernstein at 727-478-3250. He works in Pasco, Hernando, Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties in Florida and will be happy to speak with you about your case.