Hottenroth, Garverick, Tilson & Garverick, Co., L.P.A.
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Does my spouse have any rights in my pension?

Pension rights are generally misunderstood, maybe more than just about any other kind of property rights. In Ohio, most retirement and pension rights which are accumulated during a marriage are generally considered to be marital assets and are divisible in a divorce case by a Common Pleas Court. Ordinarily, the approach is to divide the benefits accrued during the marriage equally, but this is not always the case. The law requires an equitable, if not equal, distribution of martial property. Sometimes these pension programs are divided by orders called "qualified domestic relations orders," sometimes they are divided by offsetting the spouse's interest in the marital portion of the pension against other assets, and sometimes other arrangements are made for dividing them. But, the law is clear that these things are generally marital assets and that a divorce court is to divide them, whether or not the parties like it.
Some kinds of retirement programs are easier to split up than others. There are a lot of them in existence, and the best place to begin the discussion is with your lawyer. The rules are different from plan to plan and from program to program. 401(k) programs involve different considerations from defined benefit pension plans. Social Security may or may not be considered by divorce courts, depending upon a number of factors. State-run pension programs are divided in ways different from private pensions, etc. If you have questions about this kind of thing, we suggest you talk with your lawyer about them.

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Hottenroth, Garverick, Tilson & Garverick, Co., L.P.A.
126 S. Market St.
Galion, OH 44833

Phone: 419-468-5044
Fax: 419-468-1308
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