Most people work hard for their financial future and stability.

Building a foundation for a solid retirement takes foresight, organization, and preparation. Retirement should be a time to relax and work on your hobbies. A job that offers pension retirement benefits can really help with the foundation of such a peaceful retirement. Divorce, however, can disrupt that plan.

Minnesota is an “equitable distribution” state. This means that any marital property is divided equitably between the parties. Equitable, however, does not always mean equal. As you and your spouse work through your DIYvorce, dividing assets is going to be part of that process.

One place to look for guidance if you’re stuck on how to handle a pension is how the courts do it. The court considers many factors in determining how to distribute assets. But one thing they don’t consider with regard to pensions is if it is listed in just one person’s name. This is an essential issue to remember: just because an asset is listed in the name of only one spouse does not mean that the asset belongs only to that spouse, at least in the eyes of the court. While pension payments are issued to the spouse who had the job that provided the pension, it’s still marital property. The law assumes that the non-pensioned spouse provided support to help facilitate earning that pension. The same, in fact, can be said of almost all marital assets.

If you are dividing a pension, that can pose some challenges of its own. Determining the precise value of a pension can be hard. If the pension is what is called a “defined contribution plan,” then its value likely depends on the value of the fund where it has been invested. If it is that type of plan, you might be able to simply contact the fund manager and ask for the value. If the plan is a “defined benefit plan,” then the employed spouse is guaranteed a monthly income after he or she reaches retirement age. This type of plan can also be accompanied by some other benefits. For a defined benefit plan, it might take a financial expert to help determine the exact value of the plan. Pensions are often a large asset to be divided in marriages, so hiring an expert is often worth the cost.


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