When a couple divorces, they probably focus first on dividing up the property that’s easy to see-the home, furniture, cars, and so on. The property they can’t see-their intangible property-is also affected by divorce. Pensions are one kind of intangible property. For many families, a pension is the largest asset, after the family home. Even if the pension is earned solely by the efforts of one spouse, the portion of it that was earned during the marriage is still marital property subject to division by the court.
Many courts prefer to give full rights to a pension to the party who earned it as long as the other party will have a sufficient amount of income and property from other sources.
If, however, the pension is the primary source of income that a spouse would have and there are no other significant sources of income, the court is likely to divide rights to the pension. The court can divide the pension between the spouses by percentages (e.g., one spouse will receive 60 percent, the other spouse, 40 percent) or by a fixed cash amount to one spouse with the remainder to the other spouse (e.g., one spouse will get $600 per month, the other spouse, $400).