Splitting up property in a New Jersey divorce requires you to account for everything you and your ex own and sorting those assets into marital and nonmarital property. With few exceptions, most things you acquired during your marriage are marital property. Under state divorce law, you and your ex must split up the marital property on an equitable (or fair) basis.
This could include your pension, if you get one through your job, past military service or other means. The spouse who earned the pension is not the only person who was counting on that pension to help pay for retirement. As with most forms of income, the law recognizes the spouse’s role in helping support the pension-earning person’s career. Thus, income and pensions earned by one spouse during the marriage generally translate to marital property during divorce. One exception is when the couple had a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement in place.
Working out an acceptable solution
As with the rest of the property division, the fate of your pension can be negotiated. You, your ex, and your divorce attorneys will try to work out a compromise both of you can live with. For example, the spouse with the pension can buy out the other spouse’s share, perhaps in a lump sum or using spousal support payments. Or one spouse can agree to take less of the pension in exchange for some other benefit, like keeping the family home.
The solution that works for you depends on individual factors like your age, income, health needs and when you plan to retire. That is because the court order dividing up the pension does not kick in until the worker actually retires. That might be just a couple of years from now or decades away. Your circumstances will inform your strategy for reaching a solution when it comes to your pension.