The end of a marriage doesn’t have to compromise your retirement. But if your pension is left vulnerable in a Virginia divorce, the financial impacts may be far-reaching and long-lasting. Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to make sure your assets are secure.
What is divisible and what isn’t?
Most of the time, the pension that you earn during your marriage is classified as a joint asset, which is then subject to division if you get divorced. You’ll likely have to be proactive if you want to keep as much of your pension package as you can.
Your pension isn’t divided automatically when you file for divorce. Your spouse has to specifically request a share before the divorce proceedings have ended.
To make this request, your partner may have to file a qualified domestic relations order, or QDRO. You have to file this form in order to be granted financial benefits from other types of retirement accounts as well, including 401(k) accounts.
In general, the pension benefits are split up evenly. Keep in mind, though, that your spouse can only claim half of the amount that was earned while you were married. This means that any contributions from benefit plans you were enrolled in before entering the marriage aren’t eligible to be claimed by your spouse in a divorce.
Look at your state laws and plan details
The first action you can take to protect your pension is to review your state’s laws. This will help you narrow down your options and determine the best way forward.
You might be able to find useful information in your pension plan details. Make sure to read them over carefully, and don’t be afraid to call them directly and ask questions. The two key factors to pay attention to with your pension plan are the method of payment distribution and if there is a survivor’s benefit included.