The Rise of Pensions in the Divorce Pot of a Maturing Population

Divorces among seniors, the so-called “gray divorce”, has been on the uptake since 1990, actually doubling over the last quarter century.

The needs and concerns of that group of divorcing couples are generally very different from those of shorter marriages of younger couples with young children.

They prefer a more peaceful breakup and tend to take a more “bottom line” oriented approach to the typically greater assets they have accumulated over the years.

One of those assets, often given short shrift by younger couples, is pensions or pension rights.

While not liquid or readily marketable, pensions can have substantial value … if dealt with properly.

Pension division should be accomplished through a detailed QDRO or qualified domestic relations order.

It’s important to dig into all the relevant details, such as:

  • When was the account first established?
  • How much was earned after the wedding date?
  • Are benefits fixed or variable?
  • How are they calculated?
  • What happens if the ex-spouse in title dies before the other ex-spouse?
  • Who are the designated beneficiaries?
  • Were there any prenuptial or postnuptial agreements?
  • Etc., etc.

Though often overlooked or relegated to second tier status, the pension(s) may be the most significant marital assets and warrant careful attention.

Read more in this Chicago Tribute Business / Your Money column: How divorce after 50 may affect your retirement savings