In a previous post, I have offered a menu of issues that need to be resolved in order to successfully negotiate a Separation Agreement. This is the key to minimizing legal expenses in your divorce.
In situations involving a pension plan that is part of the Marital Property, the right of survivorship and who bears the cost of electing the right of survivorship needs to be considered.
“ This is one of many issues that are left to the discretion of the judge based on all the facts and circumstances of the case.
Many defined benefit pension plans allow the participant to take a reduced monthly benefit in exchange for providing continued benefits to a spouse following the death of the participant. Known as the right of survivorship, this is typical of many pension plans including federal, state and local government plans. Because so many residents in the Howard County, Anne Arundel County, and Baltimore County area are government employees, this is an important issue frequently encountered by central Maryland Divorce Lawyers.
The parties can share the reduction in the benefits pro rata or have the spouse who will benefit bear the full reduction in monthly benefits. It is usually advisable to resolve the issue in a clear and unambiguous fashion.
In the absence of a Separation Agreement by the parties, this is one of many issues that are left to the discretion of the judge based on all the facts and circumstances of the case. Ordinarily if you enter into a Separation Agreement you are compromising important issues in order to avoid litigation. It is not usually a preferred result to enter into a Separation Agreement that is unclear on this or any other point and end up in litigation over what the parties intended.