Is My Pension Considered an Asset in A Divorce?

The answer is Yes, as a pension is considered an asset in a divorce.

According to New York State law, pension benefits and retirement benefits earned during a marriage are considered marital property and subject to distribution in the event of a divorce. This means that each spouse is entitled to a share of the other spouse’s pension benefits and retirement benefits.

In general terms, there are two types of pension/retirement benefits, they are:

Defined Benefit Pensions: Typically, this the type of benefit an employee would receive from working for the government or public entity. For example, teachers, police officers, New York City firefighters, other school employees are typically entitled to a defined benefit pension. Some large companies also may offer a defined benefit pension. A defined benefit means that the benefit formula that an employee is entitled to is defined and known in advance. It also typically means that the employer funds typically funds 100% of the amount that the employee is entitled to.

Defined Contribution Plans: In this type of plan, both the employee and employer will make contributions to an account in which the employee is entitled to upon the employee’s retirement or in leaving the company. Typically, the accounts are invested in the stock market or sometimes in bonds.

Regardless, of which type of pension/retirement plan a spouse has, the other spouse is entitled to the portion of that plan that was earned during the marriage. Here, is how that works:

Assume the following facts: If the spouse was earning pension benefits for 4 years prior to the marriage, then you were married for 15 years before the commencement of the divorce, the spouse continued to earn pension benefits after the commencement of the divorce for another 6 years. So in total, the souse worked earned pension benefits for 25 years (4 + 15 + 6), and during that time earned 15 years while married.

In this example, the formula (which is called the Majuskas Formula), states:

50% X Number of years earned during marriage
———————————————— (divided by)
Total Number or years earning pension benefits

So it would be 50% X 15/25 or 30% of the spouse’s pension benefits.

In virtually all divorce cases, a third-party expert company will be hired to determine the exact amount of pension benefits each spouse is entitled to.

If you have questions regarding your rights to pension benefits or retirement benefits during a divorce, contact David Badanes and the Badanes Law Office, P.C. David Badanes and the Badanes Law Office’s phone number is 631-239-1702, email at or us on Facebook to get important legal news, tips and articles: