How Can You Keep Most of Your Pension in a New York Divorce?
After you’ve spent years contributing to your pension, the possibility of losing half of it to your ex during a divorce may seem a bitter pill to swallow. But a pension is considered marital property in New York and thus subject to equitable distribution, so relinquishing part of your pension is nearly unavoidable.
Equitable means “fair,” not “equal,” and there are certain scenarios in which courts are inclined to grant one spouse a greater share of marital property. Marital waste is one basis for altering the distribution. If, for example, your spouse excessively spent marital funds on personal purchases or on a lover, you may be able to recoup the value of this egregious spending in the property division agreement.
When it comes to pensions, there are a few different ways to work out a fair distribution. One common method that New York’s courts use to calculate an ex-spouse’s pension entitlement is known as the Majauskas Formula. It divides your years of pension earning during your marriage by your total years of earning at the time of retirement, then splits that number in half to get the percentage of your pension that should go to your ex. Alternatively, you can ask the New York State & Local Retirement System (NYSLRS) to calculate your hypothetical retirement benefit amount based off your final average salary at the date of divorce filing or another specific date. You also have the option of agreeing to pay a specific dollar amount to your ex.
You may be able to negotiate a better percentage of pension benefits for yourself with the help of an experienced attorney, who can determine if it is valuable for you to liquidate a portion of your retirement account or instead to transfer something else to your spouse as part of the marital settlement. In some years, retirement accounts increase in value faster than real estate, while in others, real estate is worth more. So it may be smart to give up a portion of your pension in order to keep your real estate.
By choosing Bryan L. Salamone & Associates, P.C. for your representation, you secure an office of professionals dedicated to defending your pension rights. Your attorney can also explain how your property division arrangement may relate to child support, alimony and other aspects of your divorce. We are prepared to advocate fiercely on your behalf. To schedule a free initial consultation with our office in Melville, New York, call 1.631.479.3839 or contact us online. We represent clients in Suffolk County and throughout Long Island.