A retirement plan—along with your home—may well be among the most valuable marital assets during settlement negotiations, yet pensions can also be the most overlooked asset. For women in particular, retirement years can bring significant levels of financial uncertainty. Because of this, your spouse’s retirement benefits are all the more important during your divorce. If you are a man, you are twice as likely to have a substantial level of retirement benefits, and those benefits are likely of a much higher value than those of a female of the same age. Many women sacrifice their own career to increase the educational opportunities of their spouse, or drop out of the employment race in order to raise their children.
In the event of a divorce, these actions make it all the more likely that the female spouse will face a severe reduction in finances. Because a woman’s contributions to her own retirement pension may also suffer negative consequences, it is all the more important that she have a solid understanding of the worth of her spouse’s pension. Many spouses—men and women—are completely unaware of the value of their spouse’s pension and may accept a more pressing need, such as the marital home, in lieu of a fair share of the pension.
Any benefits from the pension you or your spouse may have earned before you were married will remain non-marital property, however all profits which have accrued during your marriage are marital property. So that the worth of a spouse’s pension can be more precisely valuated, a specific date for that valuation must be determined. The overall worth of the pension can noticeably change from the time the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage is filed to the time the divorce is final. Determining the value of the pension may be done using a method known as the “cash out” method, which is generally considered the simplest manner of pension division. With this method, the non-employee spouse may receive a lump-sum settlement, allowing the employee spouse to retain the actual pension.
According to Florida statute, all vested or non-vested rights and funds accrued during the marriage are considered marital assets therefore will be divided equitably. This includes pension plans, profit-sharing plans, annuities, deferred compensations and insurance plans garnered through a spouse’s employment. If a pension fund will be a part of the division of assets during your divorce, it is important that you have experienced legal counsel by your side to ensure the pension is divided fairly. The attorneys at The Law Place can help you through all phases of your divorce—we are highly skilled in asset division, child custody, child support and spousal support and knowledgeable regarding the division of pension funds. Don’t let such a valuable asset slip away during your divorce—speak to an experienced attorney from The Law Place.
§61.076 Distribution of retirement plans upon dissolution of marriage.—
(1) All vested and nonvested benefits, rights, and funds accrued during the marriage in retirement, pension, profit-sharing, annuity, deferred compensation, and insurance plans and programs are marital assets subject to equitable distribution.
(2) If the parties were married for at least 10 years, during which at least one of the parties who was a member of the federal uniformed services performed at least 10 years of creditable service, and if the division of marital property includes a division of uniformed services retired or retainer pay, the final judgment shall include the following:
(a) Sufficient information to identify the member of the uniformed services;
(b) Certification that the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act was observed if the decree was issued while the member was on active duty and was not represented in court;
(c) A specification of the amount of retired or retainer pay to be distributed pursuant to the order, expressed in dollars or as a percentage of the disposable retired or retainer pay.
(3) An order which provides for distribution of retired or retainer pay from the federal uniformed services shall not provide for payment from this source more frequently than monthly and shall not require the payor to vary normal pay and disbursement cycles for retired or retainer pay in order to comply with the order.