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Dividing private pension benefits in divorce: the documents

Posted November 2009. Filed under Property & Financial Matters

Dividing pension benefits when a marriage ends is a pretty technical process. You might have a separation agreement that will spell it out. Or your divorce may include many unresolved financial issues. Either way, you should be ready with the particular documents that are needed to divide pension benefits properly:

  • the pension plan and/or trust document
  • the summary plan description
  • the most recent summary annual report
  • the most recent benefits statement provided to the participant
  • the required written regulations explaining the plan’s process for qualifying domestic relations orders (*see the comment below)

Do you have to provide these documents? Technically, no. But your attorney will need to see the documents in order to determine a fair division of pension benefits. And if there is any disagreement, the court will direct you or your spouse to provide them.

Where do you get these documents? From the pension plan administrator. The employer or the union offering the plan can give you the name and contact information for this person, who is required by law to give you the information that you will need to present.

*This last item is technical. The plan administrator will know exactly what you want when you ask for ‘an explanation of your QDRO process.’


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