Am I entitled to my ex-husband's retirement benefit if we were married for 19 years before the divorce? 24 Answers as of February 24, 2013

I am a 45 year old woman and I have been divorced from my ex-husband for 7 years. We both have remarried. I would like to know if I am entitled to any of his retirement benefits if we were together for 24 years but only married for 19 years. We also have 2 children together. He started working at the age of 17 and I don’t believe he has retired just yet. He is 48 years of age.

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John H. Sibbison III, Professional Law Corporation | John Sibbison
Yes, most definitely. Retain an attorney asap.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 2/24/2013
Gateway Legal Group | Christian J. Albut
This would be dependent on the judgment that was entered by the court. The judgement should have dealt with the retirement. Generally you would be entitled to a percentage of the retirement for the period of time that you were married. It would only be for the 19 years of marriage not the 24 years that you were together. A qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) would have to be done to get that percentage of the retirement.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 2/24/2013
Fox Law Firm LLC
Fox Law Firm LLC | Tina Fox
That would have been discussed and decided in your final divorce decree, also known as final judgment or judgment of/for dissolution. Please review your final decree for any referenced to the retirement benefits.
Answer Applies to: Illinois
Replied: 2/24/2013
S. Joseph Schramm | Joseph Schramm
If you have been divorced for over 7 years it is now too late to make an equitable distribution claim on any pension benefits he might have earned during the marriage. However, were you able to apply for Social Security retirement benefits you might be entitled to claim part of his Social Security Retirement as you were married 10 years or more.
Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
Replied: 2/24/2013
Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
You are already divorced? If so, the answer to your question lies within the divorce decree. If you did not ask for it at the divorce, then it is not in the decree and you are out of luck. If you asked, the Judge either did or did not award you some of it and the answer is in your decree.
Answer Applies to: Texas
Replied: 2/24/2013
    Midway Law
    Midway Law | Joseph I. Silverzweig
    Your question is complicated, but in general the answer in Utah is yes. The type of retirement plan that you are dealing with is an important consideration; it is generally very easy to split 'savings account' plans like a Roth IRA or a 401(k), as well as defined contribution plans. Defined benefit plans are trickier, but you are still entitled to the proceeds. The essential principle here is that while you were either working or keeping the home, you were enabling your ex-husband to develop his retirement savings. As such, your effort as part of the marital unit contributed to the retirement plan, and you are entitled to it. You mention that your divorce was some years ago; this can create some tricky problems, depending on how settled your divorce is. However, it's worth contacting a family law attorney, and bringing all of your divorce documentation to him or her so that they can fully evaluate situation. You should also know that you are in general only entitled to a portion of the retirement fund that was accrued while you were married. If your ex-husband accrued $10,000 in a retirement account before you married him, and $50,000 during your marriage, you would be entitled to your share of $50,000, not $60,000.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 2/24/2013
    Denis M Faubert | Denis M Faubert
    No, you would have been entitled to his retirement benefits before you had become divorced seven years prior however.
    Answer Applies to: Oklahoma
    Replied: 2/24/2013
    Law Offices of Arlene D. Kock
    Law Offices of Arlene D. Kock | Arlene D. Kock
    You have a community interest in any pension earned during the marriage. The question that must be answered was if this pension was divided or not in your divorce action.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/24/2013
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC | John F Brennan
    The answer will be determined by the terms of the divorce judgment. Read it and if you do not understand you should seek counsel. You will have potential rights and options regarding Social Security benefits as the marriage was over ten years under the current law when you and he qualify (12 years + for you).
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 2/21/2013
    Law Offices of Frances Headley | Frances Headley
    You would be entitled to a portion of his retirement which accrued during the years you were married. If your Judgment did not cover the retirement, you can bring a motion to have the asset divided. You should consult a family law attorney for assistance.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/21/2013
    LAW OFFICE OF ANNE B. HOWARD | Anne B. Howard
    The retirement should have been covered in your divorce. See an attorney to review the paperwork.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/21/2013
    Kalil & Eisenhut, LLC | Michael N. Kalil
    You had an entitlement to a portion of your former spouses pension. However, if you didn't secure that interest at the time of divorce (either because you forgot, or you goofed), you don't get to go back and ask for it now. Call and speak to a lawyer and explain your situation.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 2/21/2013
    Bruning & Associates, PC
    Bruning & Associates, PC | Kevin Bruning
    Thank you for the important question. You need to hire an experienced family law attorney like me. Please call - I can help. The answer to your question depends upon whether or not the divorce decree awards you any portion of your ex-husband's pension. Generally, pension benefits our marital property subject to allocation at the time of the divorce. The allocation ordinarily takes place pursuant to a qualified domestic relations order oftentimes referred to as a QDRO. Please contact me for a free consultation. We will be able to assist you to determine whether or not you are entitled to a share of your ex-husband's pension.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 2/21/2013
    Reade & Associates
    Reade & Associates | R. Christopher Reade
    In Nevada, the portion of a pension or retirement account earned during the marriage is community property. Under the facts, you would have been entitled to the portion of his pension earned during the 19 years of marriage. However this right should have been divided at the time of the divorce.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 2/21/2013
    Reger Rizzo & Darnall LLP | Kathleen DeLacy
    That would be part of the property settlement but you have to petition for ancillary matters, it is separate from the divorce.
    Answer Applies to: Delaware
    Replied: 2/21/2013
    Carey and Leisure | John Smitten
    If this was not resolved in the judgment then no.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 2/21/2013
    WARM SPRINGS LAW GROUP | Elliott D. Yug
    In Nevada you are entitled to a portion of his retirement based on how long you were married while he contributed to the retirement.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 2/21/2013
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law | John Kirchner
    If you didn't deal with the retirement in the divorce case 7 years ago, you probably don't have any supportable basis to ask for it now. You need to consult an attorney in person to discuss possible arguments to explain why the pension issue wasn't decided 7 years ago in the divorce.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 2/21/2013
    Petit & Dommershausen SC
    Petit & Dommershausen SC | Tajara Dommershausen
    You would have had the right if it was in your divorce decree but if it wasn't, it is now too late.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 2/21/2013
    Diefer Law Group, P.C.
    Diefer Law Group, P.C. | Abel Fernandez
    From your facts, yes, you would have an interest in part of his retirement.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/21/2013
    Pingelton Law Firm | Dan Pingelton
    You would have been entitled, but since you're remarried, it may be that you waived these claims by not getting them in the divorce. Speak to a family law attorney about this. There may be a way to get them if they were not addressed in your divorce.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 2/21/2013
    Henry Lebensbaum | Henry Lebensbaum
    You are entitled to some portion of this, that you can achieve by agreement or through a trial.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 2/21/2013
    Peyton and Associates | Barbara Peyton
    You need to review your divorce judgment. If the retirement benefits were not handled in that case, you need to reopen it and have the portion of the retirement benefits acquired by your ex-husband during the marriage to you divided equally. You will probably need a family law attorney to help you with this.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/21/2013
    Peters Law, PLLC
    Peters Law, PLLC | Mark T. Peters, Sr.
    If you were not awarded a portion of his pension when you got divorced, I do not believe that you are entitled to any of it. In the divorce, the court would have issues a qualified domestic relations order that would have split the pension. Talk with your attorney to see what happened.
    Answer Applies to: Idaho
    Replied: 2/21/2013
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