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Pensions divided under New York divorce laws

Marital assets often refer to any type of assets obtained during a marriage, including pieces of property and vehicles. Under New York law, couples may also divide public pensions during their divorce proceedings. The amount of the pension that a former spouse receives during a divorce typically depends on the length of the marriage.

The Majauskas Formula is a formula established during a New York divorce case. This formula takes the amount of time that an individual worked while married and divides that by the number of years he or she worked. That figure is then divided in half, and the final number is the percentage of the pension that goes to the former spouse.

There are also other ways that that a person might choose to distribute pension benefits. For example, the couple can seek a flat dollar amount for the distribution. Under this method, the amount given to the pensioner's former spouse is not subject to change based on changes in the pensioner's employment status prior to retirement. One might also attempt to calculate the share of the pension based on a hypothetical retirement date. Couples might also be able to negotiate a modification of the standard formula.

An individual's pension is only one of many of the assets that might be subject to division during property division and divorce. Other retirement accounts, such as IRAs and 401(k) may be substantial assets that could be subjected to division. However, the process of determining the amount that should be distributed can be a complicated endeavor without professional help. A lawyer who has experience evaluating and dividing such assets might be able to assist a client during such proceedings.

Source: Office of the State Comptroller, "The Ex-spouse’s Share", January 05, 2015

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