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Safeguarding your pension rights post-divorce

The Minnesota Supreme Court recently issued a ruling in a case regarding pension rights in divorce and illustrates the importance of following court orders and proper procedures when dealing with pensions.

During divorce proceedings, one spouse may be awarded pension rights as part of the property division process. In this particular case, the divorcing husband was a participant in a union pension fund. When he and his wife of 30 years divorced, the court awarded her a half-interest in any future pension payments. The only catch: she needed to serve a domestic relations order as required by federal law.

However, she failed to serve that order and when her husband remarried several years later he took his pension as an annuity and named his new wife as the beneficiary. His ex-wife pursued a claim in court, but the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that she failed to act in time to preserve her rights.

If you are considering a divorce or currently in the middle of the divorce process, it is important to make sure your rights and interests are protected. Without the proper representation it is possible to miss out on joint property and benefits to which you may be entitled, including joint accounts, real estate property or alimony.

Even if you believe you and your spouse are on the same page in your divorce, consider enlisting the help of a private attorney. Having someone whose goal is to protect you and your finances can help you start your new life off on the right foot. Divorce is rarely a pleasant process but, with the right help, you can come out in a good place personally and financially.

Source: On Wall Street, "Protecting Clients' Pension Rights After Divorce," Donald Jay Korn, April 5, 2013

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