Q: I live in Maryland. I receive a pension from my former job. Is my husband entitled to my pension?
We are not separated or divorced. I would like to know by law am I obligated to give him half of my pension in the state of maryland?
A: Until a court orders you to give him any, NO. However, in the event a divorce case reaches trial before a Maryland judge, one of the issues a judge resolves is how to divide marital property in an "equitable" manner. Marital property includes pensions, to the extent you contributed and earned your pension from employment during the years you were married. Premarital contributions and accumulations do not count as marital property. However, a spouse is not automatically entitled to 50% of all marital property, even though a court may generally start from that concept. ALL marital property, and the contributions each spouse made toward the marriage, both financial and non-financial contributions, are considered, as is evidence of abuse, the reasons for the breakdown of the marriage, and numerous other factors. If the judge awards your spouse part of your mortgage, then a retirement/pension order is issued, often called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (or QDRO for short), which will contain specific direction on what portion of the pension is awarded, on an "if, as and when" basis (e.g., your spouse may be awarded an amount equal to a fraction of your benefit at such time as you begin receiving it, with the fraction determined by the number of months you were married divided by the number of months you were employed and earning your pension, and then multiplied by whatever percentage your spouse is awarded of that number, which could be 50%).
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