Should I Take the House or Part of My Husband's Pension?


In most Pasadena divorce settlements, the marital home and the husband's pension are the two largest assets. (Even though more women work outside the home today, women are still much less likely to be employed in full time jobs offering pensions.)

It is common for women in the middle of a divorce to have a sentimental attachment to the marital home. Whether it is the place where their children took their first steps or simply the centerpiece of many happy memories, women often see a home as more than just a financial asset. There's nothing wrong with this perspective, but it's important not to overlook the value of dividing a pension when it comes to providing long term financial security.

For a woman who sacrificed several years of her working life to care for her children and support her spouse's career, a share of her ex-husband's pension can mean the difference between a comfortable retirement and spending her golden years worried about how to make ends meet. The contributions to a pension plan made during the time the couple is married are considered a marital asset. For example, if your husband worked at a company for five years before you were married and fifteen years after, the first five years of contributions would be his separate property. The share that is considered community property is divided using either reservation of jurisdiction in which each person receives a proportionate share of the benefits when they are paid or a cash-out after obtaining an actuarial evaluation of the plan.

Pension law involves many subtleties because of the complex rules regarding classification, valuation, and distribution. Even lawyers who are otherwise very experienced can have trouble dealing with this area. If your husband has a pension, it is vital that you select a Pasadena divorce attorney who is familiar with how to handle these negotiations.