How Pensions Work in New York Divorce Cases

In New York, understanding the intricacies of how pensions are treated during a divorce is crucial for both parties involved. The division of these assets can significantly impact the financial security of both spouses post-divorce. With insights from experienced divorce attorney Brian D. Perskin, this article explores the key aspects of pension division in New York divorce cases, debunking common misconceptions and emphasizing the importance of professional legal guidance.

The Basics of Pension Division in New York

New York follows the equitable distribution law when it comes to dividing marital assets, including pensions. Equitable does not necessarily mean equal, but rather what is considered fair by the court, based on various factors. Pensions earned during the marriage are typically considered marital property and are thus subject to division upon divorce.

Understanding Equitable Distribution

The division of pensions is not a straightforward 50/50 split. Instead, it involves a detailed analysis to determine what is equitable or fair under the circumstances. Factors considered include the length of the marriage, the financial situation of each spouse, and contributions made by each spouse during the marriage (both financial and non-financial).

Common Misconceptions About Pensions in Divorce

“One of the biggest misconceptions about dividing pensions in a divorce is that the non-earning spouse automatically receives half of the other’s pension. This is not always the case,” explains Brian D. Perskin. The actual division depends heavily on the specifics of each case and the discretion of the court.

The Case of Henry Majauskas vs. Sandra Majauskas

In the case discussed, the New York court ruled on the division of noncontributory pension plan rights in a divorce, emphasizing that such rights, if acquired during the marriage but before divorce proceedings begin, are considered marital property even if they have not yet matured. The court held that it is within the matrimonial court’s discretion, according to section 236 of the Domestic Relations Law, to decide how to equitably distribute such pension rights. Options may include a division of the present value of the pension earned during the marriage or arranging for payments to be made from the pension upon its maturity.

The case involved a plaintiff, a policeman, who had vested pension rights due to over 10 years of service, although the rights were not mature at the time of the divorce initiation. The trial court found these rights to be marital property and subject to distribution, deciding that the defendant, the wife, should receive a portion. The judgment allowed the wife several options for receiving her share, either as a lump sum immediately, upon the plaintiff’s retirement, or as a fraction of each pension payment.

The Appellate Division upheld the notion that vested but unmatured pension rights are indeed marital property. However, it modified the trial court’s judgment regarding the payment method, focusing on ensuring the pension division adhered strictly to the period of the marriage up to the divorce filing. This modification aimed to simplify the computation and make the process fairer, considering the specifics of marital property as defined by law.

Importance of Legal Representation

Given the complexity of pension laws and the significant amount of money that can be at stake, hiring a knowledgeable divorce attorney is essential. “Without proper legal representation, you may not receive your fair share of the pension, or you might end up paying more than is fair,” says Perskin.

Key Reasons to Hire an Attorney for Pension Issues:

  • Expert evaluation of the pension and its value
  • Understanding of legal entitlements and obligations
  • Skilled negotiation to secure equitable division
  • Prevention of potential legal pitfalls and errors

Hiring a New York Divorce Attorney

At Brian D. Perskin and Associates, we specialize in navigating the complex landscape of divorce and pension division. Our firm is committed to ensuring that our clients receive the best possible outcomes, with tailored strategies designed to protect their financial interests and future.

If you’re facing a divorce in New York and need expert guidance on how pensions are handled, contact Brian D. Perskin and Associates today. Let our experienced team help you secure the financial stability you deserve. Don’t let misunderstandings about pension laws affect your future—get the professional representation you need.

Contact us at 866-926-5655 today to get expert-guided legal representation.

Scroll to Top