The New York State Court of Appeals has determined that retirement benefits are marital property and are subject to equitable distribution. Equitable distribution is the division of marital assets between spouses after the marriage has ended. This division must be stated in the form of a Domestic Relations Order (DRO) if we are to pay a portion of your pension to your ex-spouse. A DRO gives us specific direction on how your retirement benefits should be divided. However, it does not allow for a distribution of your pension until you actually retire, die or terminate membership.
If you are divorced, it is especially important to review your beneficiary designations to ensure your benefits will be distributed according to your wishes. Effective July 7, 2008, beneficiary designations for certain benefits are revoked when a divorce, annulment or judicial separation becomes final. An exception is if the terms of a DRO specify otherwise. Beneficiary designations may be revoked for the Ordinary Death Benefit, the Cash Refund Contributions option and the Five and Ten Year Certain options. Survivor Benefit beneficiaries for retirees who chose the Single Life Allowance option may also be revoked.
For more information on how your pension benefits can be affected by divorce, consult your attorney, contact our Matrimonial Bureau or read our guide to Domestic Relations Orders and review our Divorce FAQs.