If you’re getting divorced, one of the most valuable assets you have may be one you’ve technically never used before: your spouse’s pension plan.
After all, your spouse has been working to build up that pension while you were married. If the company just paid him or her extra money and you set it aside yourself, it would be a marital asset that you would need to divide. It’d be easy to track and remember. It’s no different when your spouse is earning that pension, though you don’t control the asset yet and so many people forget about it.
Typically, you have a right to a portion of whatever your spouse earned while the two of you were married. For instance, maybe your spouse had to work for 30 years to earn that pension. You were married for 15 of those years. You could then get roughly 25 percent of the pension — half of the total earned during your marriage.
Of course, there are exceptions. Did you sign a prenuptial agreement when you got married that waived your right to your portion of the pension? Did you agree to take something else during the property division process — like the family home — in exchange for your eventual interest in the pension?
Generally speaking, though, you have a right to this asset, and you absolutely need to know how to make sure that right is honored during the divorce. Depending on the situation, it could be one of the highest-value assets you control, and you have been counting on that money to carry you into retirement. Don’t let it get away.