Some employers still offer old-fashioned defined benefit pension plans to their employees. A divorce settlement may provide an employee’s ex-spouse with a present or future interest in the lifetime pension payments. To determine the marital portion of the pension it may be necessary to hire a pension consultant. This article provides useful information regarding the division of the marital portion of pension plans.
What is the best method for splitting a defined benefit plan in a divorce?
Qualified domestic relations orders (QDROs) are used to divide qualified retirement plans, such as 401(k)s, 403(b)s and defined benefit plans. Most often, defined benefit plans are available to workers in fields, such as teaching, military service, state and local government and manufacturing. There are two methods that can be used in a QDRO to split a defined benefit plan: shared interest or separate interest. The spouses will have conflicting objectives and it is important to review the options carefully. These methods are described in detail here.
A divorce forces a reset of your financial and retirement goals, especially if you are older and closer to retirement. There are some actions you can take to strengthen your financial condition including implementing a qualified domestic relations order, understanding spousal benefits under the Social Security program, and updating your retirement plan. This article provides more detail regarding steps to take after your divorce.
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Divorcing at or near retirement creates additional risk to women’s financial security. The statistics indicate that after divorce an average woman’s standard of living drops by 45% as compared to 21% for an average man. According to this article, there are several reasons that may explain this gap including losing employer- based health coverage, reduced social security benefits because of a shorter work history and unfavorable division of marital assets whereby the wife may give up retirement assets to keep the marital home.