I am preparing to retire at the end of the year. I also fear I may be heading towards a divorce with my wife.
My wife plans on continuing working for several years and is listed as the beneficiary to my pension when I die. Her yearly salary will be more than my yearly retirement pay.
If we divorce, is she entitled to half my monthly pension pay even if her work salary is more?
While I am not licensed to practice law in your state and cannot give you legal advice, I can give some general observations on this issue based on the jurisdiction where I practice.
Generally, the division of marital property is a three-step process.
First, decide what is, and what is not, marital property. Any asset or debt acquired during the marriage is considered to be marital property, unless an exception applies (such as an inheritance).
Second, give each asset and debt a value.
Third, assign each asset and debt to one party or the other. From this last step, each party will then have a net value of assets and debts received. The party with the higher net value of marital property received will need to pay an “equalization payment” to the other party, so that the net values are close to equal.
I would expect that portion of your pension that was earned during the marriage will be part of the property equalization process.
It is important that you consult a domestic litigation attorney in your state to find out how your state’s laws apply to your situation, and what kind of steps can be taken to protect your financial position.