If your spouse asks you for a divorce, your financial future can suddenly get a bit unclear. Maybe your spouse has always been the main breadwinner for your family, for instance, while you stayed home to raise the children. Your spouse has a pension plan, so you never bothered to save for retirement, assuming you’d both live off of the pension.
With the divorce, though, you’re suddenly worried. You don’t have any savings. Are you now going to lose the pension? Even if you divide the current assets you own, your spouse has not yet retired and is not yet getting that pension. Does that mean you don’t get any of it?
Not necessarily. You may be eligible for a portion of that pension. The court can use a document called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) to authorize you as an alternative payee. When this happens, a percentage of each pension payment goes to you. This document can even stipulate that you get the payments in the future if your ex isn’t getting the pension yet. If they retire in five years, for instance, you could start getting the payments then — just as you assumed you would during the marriage.
Remember, though, that you won’t get all of it. You may not even get half. You typically just get a percentage of the pension for the time that you were married and your spouse held the job that offered the pension. That’s the only portion of the pension that was “earned” as a marital asset.
Still, a QDRO can still give you more security than you would have otherwise, so you want to know how it works.