As you moved forward with your career as a law enforcement officer, you may have garnered promotions and accolades for your fine work. You may have shared in the joy of these moments with your spouse and valued the support he or she offered. However, the stress of the job or other marital issues may have resulted in your once-happy marriage taking a turn toward divorce.
This type of scenario could happen to any married Arizona resident, but you may have particular concerns when it comes to property division. For instance, you may be worried that your retirement pension will face negative impacts during the divorce process.
Because you accumulated at least a portion of your pension funds during your marriage, it is considered a marital asset. Because state property division follows community property laws, your community, or marital, property will face an equitable split. As a result, you are at risk of losing a portion of your pension earned during the course of your marriage.
However, you may not automatically lose a portion of your pension during the divorce. Your soon-to-be ex-spouse will likely have to file a specific request known as a Qualified Domestic Relations Order in order for the benefits to face division. A QDRO is also needed for the division of other retirement accounts.
Protecting your pension
Of course, you may not want to lose any of your pension during your divorce. While state law does indicate an equitable division of assets, it does not necessarily mean that every asset has to face that split. Instead of giving over half of your pension, you may have some other assets that you could use as negotiation tools.
For instance, if your shared home no longer requires mortgage payments, you may feel willing to allow your ex-spouse to retain the entirety of that asset as long as he or she gives up any claim to your pension. You may also have other assets to utilize for an equitable division, but one that does not require the splitting of your pension.
Protecting your pension and other retirement benefits is important, especially if you are nearing retirement age. In order to gain more information on state laws regarding pension division during divorce and on how you can work to negotiate and protect your benefits, you may want to consult with an experienced family law attorney.