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In Georgia, a couple’s marital property must be divided equitably upon divorce. It is important to understand that certain retirement and pension benefits will be included in the assets to divide between estranged spouses.

The financial implications of property division are significant. If you have questions about how pension and retirement benefits are typically divided in Alpharetta, contact a local attorney immediately.

Dividing Retirement Benefits

Equitable division of property does not necessarily mean a 50/50 split. In other words, local courts will attempt to distribute assets in a way that places both spouses on equal financial footing post-divorce. Retirement benefits that were accrued after marriage would be considered marital property, making them divisible in many divorce cases.

Retirement benefits that may be subject to equitable division include:

  • Pensions (including military pensions)
  • Permanent life insurance
  • Annuity
  • Social Security retirement benefits (if a couple has been married for 10 years or more)
  • Federal Survivor Benefit Plan annuity or unvested retirement benefits

Dividing Social Security Benefits after a Divorce

After a divorce, one party might be able to collect Social Security benefits based on their former spouse’s earnings. These benefits only apply in cases where the parties were married for at least 10 years.

The spouse petitioning for financial support must be at least 62 years old and cannot remarry if they wish to continue receiving a portion of their ex’s Social Security benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will determine eligibility when the disabled party applies for those benefits. The party receiving benefits from the SSA will collect their amount first.

When a party’s Social Security benefit amount is lower than their former spouse’s, the Social Security Administration will pay them the difference to increase their benefits to the higher sum, up to 50 percent of their former spouse’s benefits. It is advisable to speak to an attorney in Alpharetta about properly dividing retirement benefits, including Social Security.

Dividing Pensions in a Divorce Case

Pensions may also be considered part of the marital estate, meaning a judge will divide funds accrued during the marriage as any other asset. Splitting pension funds can be challenging, however.

Since pensions may not benefit an employee until they retire, dividing pension funds at the time of a divorce is not always possible. Fortunately, there are a few ways to divide a pension.

For example, the court may award a greater amount of other assets to the spouse who doesn’t own the pension to offset the funds. Alternatively, a judge may enter an order stating that the spouse earning the pension will pay spousal support in an amount equal to the other spouse’s share of the pension.

Marital Agreements and Retirement Accounts

A prenuptial or a postnuptial agreement gives spouses greater agency over how their assets will be divided in case of a future divorce. Spouses who previously entered a marital agreement can control whether and how retirement benefits and pensions will be divided in the event of divorce.

If parties have these agreements, they will need to inform their attorneys. Marital agreements can have significant impacts on the division of retirement benefits and pensions in Alpharetta.

Speak with a Qualified Alpharetta Attorney to Divide Pension and Retirement Benefits

Dividing retirement benefits and pensions in a divorce is a complicated task. Parties often disagree about what fair and equitable will mean in their case.

If you are concerned about dividing pension and retirement benefits in Alpharetta, contact an experienced lawyer on our team. Hiring a lawyer means having an advocate throughout your divorce, so call today to get started.

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