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Long Island Divorce Lawyer Answers Questions About Pensions

long island divorce lawyer pension fund

As a Divorce Lawyer on Long Island, I see that for many married couples facing divorce, a major concern is how pensions earned over the course of the marriage will be divided. Particularly when a pension has been earned by just one spouse, divorcing couples are concerned about whether the nonearning spouse can share in it.

Individuals make regular contributions to pension plans while they are employed. The contributions are invested by the employer, union, or government entity, and then paid back to the person during their retirement. This means that, throughout the course of a marriage, one spouse may make regular contributions to the pension plan.

The owner of the pension may believe that he is entitled to the funds because he paid into it with his own employment income. The non-owner spouse may believe that, because he or she contributed to the household in other ways while the owner spouse was contributing to a pension plan, that he or she is entitled to share in the pension.

The answer is that when the pension was indeed earned during the marriage, New York state law governing Long Island provides for equitable distribution of marital assets, which means that a court will determine how to split the property, including pensions, in the most fair and equitable manner.

Is a Pension Marital Property or Separate Property on Long Island?

While some assets, like joint bank accounts, are simple to divide in equitable distribution, others can be more complicated. The first step to determining whether a pension can be divided at divorce is to determine whether the pension is marital or separate property, or both. Whether a pension is marital or separate property is often a disputed topic between divorcing spouses.

Usually, marital property consists of property acquired during the marriage. In many cases, pensions fall entirely into this category. If the pension is not marital property, then it will most likely not be subject to equitable distribution at divorce. If the pension or a portion of it is marital property, the marital property will likely be divided among the spouses. This, however, does not always mean that the assets will be split in half. Instead, courts in New York try to split the assets in the most fair and equitable manner.

The result typically depends on when contributions were made. Assets such as pensions require careful valuation and review before they can be divided. Typically, when pensions are earned during the marriage, they are subject to equitable distribution. This means that the non-earning spouse will be entitled to a share.

Under New York State law, wealth that is accumulated during the marriage, including employment income, is marital property. Therefore, pensions that are earned during the marriage are also viewed as marital property. However, pensions that were earned prior to the marriage may be considered separate property and will not be divided among spouses.

What is an Equitable Distribution of Marital Property in a Divorce?

The court looks to several factors in order to determine an equitable distribution of marital property. Important factors include the length of the marriage as well as each spouse’s ability to provide for him or herself in the future. Generally, any property gained during the marriage is considered marital property, and is therefore subject to equitable distribution. Separate property includes property owned by one spouse prior to the marriage, as well as gifts or inheritances given to one spouse during the marriage. Separate property normally does not become marital property until it is mixed with marital property or shared with the other spouse to the point that an intent to make it marital property is shown. In some cases, then, a pension earned prior to marriage can later become marital property.

Determining Equitable Distribution in a Divorce on Long Island is Not Simple

Contact an Experienced Long Island Divorce Attorney to Ensure You Protect Your Assets

Because New York is an equitable distribution state, there are many factors at play that will affect how property is divided at divorce. An experienced attorney can assist you in determining how your or your spouse’s pension will be affected by your divorce. The attorneys at the Office of Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. can answer any questions you might have about how your assets, including pensions and retirement plans, may be split upon your divorce in New York. Our divorce attorneys are experienced in all types of divorce and family law matters in Nassau County, Suffolk County, and the five boroughs of New York City, and consistently achieve positive outcomes for our clients. Contact our office today at 631-923-1910, or fill out the short form on this page to set up your free consultation.

For more information about Property Division in your divorce, visit our Complete Guide to Dividing Property in Divorce.

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Mr. Hornberger was so helpful to me in a recent consultation. He gave me his time generously, listened patiently, offered clear counsel, and said I didn't actually need further legal services in a particular matter, which I really appreciated.
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Jenny Allen
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13:26 18 Jun 22
Mr. Hornberger was so helpful to me in a recent consultation. He gave me his time generously, listened patiently,... offered clear counsel, and said I didn't actually need further legal services in a particular matter, which I really appreciated.read more
Elizabeth Martin
Elizabeth Martin
21:06 25 Jan 22
The team at Hornberger Verbitsky made me feel at ease after I retained them after a 3 year contested divorce process. I... like their approach with how they educate you on ways to get the best outcome in your divorce. Mr. Hornberger made me feel heard and was compassionate to my case while also being aggressive in the courtroom to help me get the most positive outcome. He prevented my case from having to go to trial and he closed the deal in my long drawn out emotional divorce. I was happy that I retained him and would recommend him to anyone that is going through a high conflict divorce.read more
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rrezarta lekaj
20:47 24 Nov 21
Christine is truly the best there is. She is beyond professional, personable, genuine, extremely trusting, and has made... such a stressful and emotional time for my family and I easier to get through. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart for your guidance, your support, and being there every step of the way. I would highly recommend Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. to anyone that is in need for legal advice - you will be in the best hands.read more
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Rob and Christine are the very best out there!I can not say enough about them. They both have helped me so much in... different matters throughout the last several years . They have gone over and beyond!I highly recommend this law firm !read more
Tara Tocci
Tara Tocci
20:59 17 Sep 21
I called to make an appointment for a consultation to discuss a mediated divorce, the office was fantastic with getting... me a prompt appointment. When going in all my questions were asked and I left feeling comfortable in my decision to move forward in using the Hornberger/Verbitsky office. Despite a pandemic going on the office still worked diligently to get my papers filed and my divorce complete in a timely manner. Highly recommend!read more
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Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C were phenomenal in every way. Robert was very genuine, patient and professional. Walking in,... I had no idea what to expect but he went above and beyond to explain the entire process thoroughly. He guided and informed me of my rights. Patty was amazing, she answered every question I had no matter how many times I called, she was very understanding. I highly recommend Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. Even if its just for questions on how to navigate this process.read more
Kerri
Kerri
16:57 17 Sep 21
Rob and his team are by far one of the greatest! Patty is amazing and will make sure all of your questions are... addressed and responded to. Rob and his team made a very tough time in my life as simple as possible. Rob is extremely knowledgeable and very empathetic. Patty was a pleasure to work with and I would recommend this firm to anyone that needs a great divorce attorney. Thank you for all of your help!read more
Angela Thearle
Angela Thearle
00:21 07 Aug 21
Hornberger law was the best choice I made when I needed to go to family court with my ex for custody of my children.... They were there at any time when I neeeded them. Going through a custody battle can be a huge emotional rollercoaster and very painful. They helped me through it and made it less painful and heartbreaking. And I got the outcome plus more than I expectedread more
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22:45 17 Dec 20
I went to see Rob for a modification for my child custody agreement to relocate, I can honestly say that working with... Rob and Christine has been the best experience. I cannot recommend them enough I only wish I had seen them sooner. They are prompt with communication, and they are honest which I appreciate so much. They do not give you fake promises and they do their best to fight for what you want which they do amazingly well! You can tell they are passionate about what they do and care about their clients. A very important aspect of lawyer client relationship for me is an open line of communication, the anxiety of the unknown always gets the best of us. The fact they were always available whether it be phone call or email to answer any question was extremely comforting and exactly what I needed. I am not well versed with laws and regulation so knowing I had Rob and his partners there when I was unsure or conflicted was extremely needed and greatly appreciated.When it comes to family court it's never easy but having Rob and his partner by my side I felt extremely comfortable and he helped me have realistic expectations. Please TRUST HIM!! If you're looking for a lawyer (at least for my end from child custody/Family Court) don't look any further you will not be disappointed. I hope to never have to use them again but in the event I have to, they are going to be my forever first call.read more
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I hired Robert to handle a child custody and child support matter. He was prompt and professional and was able to... achieve a result that 3 prior attorneys could not. He and his staff made a stressful situation easy. I highly recommend his office.read more
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I am a paralegal in an unrelated field of law. I phoned Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. today intending to refer a client... to their office. Instead (and despite that we are the midst of the present crisis), Mr. Hornberger himself graciously accommodated my questions over the telephone, and was generous with his time and adroit in his response, saving our client a small fortune in unnecessary legal fees. I have not had any similar experience, in which counsel was so generous with his expertise, in 22+ years of interacting with prominent, local attorneys, and the client is overjoyed. Based on this experience, I would now whole -heartedly recommend this firm as trusted professionals to any client requiring a firm expert in family law and related legal issues.read more
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Being in family court especially when your children are on the line is extremely emotional and stressful but working... with Robert and Christine put me at ease and made the process as pleasant as a situation like that can be. I have a now 3 year old daughter (who is the most important person in my life) and I've been working with them for over two years since my daughter was 7 months old, the case has been up and down and through it all Rob and Christine have never given up. My original case was due to a neglect charge. Cps is not easy to work with, but Rob and Christine were vigilant and I ended up getting my daughter back within 8 months and did not have to plead guilty to the neglect. Currently I am in family court to figure out a custody agreement. They are professional, empathetic, and patient. They have always explained everything thoroughly, informed me of all my options and advised me of what my best option would be. They always respond quickly when I contact them with questions or concerns and most importantly they fight for me in court and don't give up even when things get rough. Before hiring Rob and Christine I met with other attorneys who did not make me feel confident or comfortable at all about my case, so I am very grateful to have found Rob and Christine and to be represented by such great attorneys. I highly recommend them for any family court matters and will definitely continue to use them in the future if needed.read more
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Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. - Mr. Robert Hornberger and his staff are beyond professional, they quickly gave me my... consultation appointment, and helped me with an after-Divorce issue. Mr. Hornberger was empathetic and explained to me what I should expect. Mr. Hornberger was extremely professional and advised me of my options, he helped me proceed with accurate and smart decisions. I wish I had Mr. Hornberger and his highly recommended staff when I was getting divorced. I would highly recommend Robert and his staff to anyone who is getting a divorce or in need of help with situations after the divorce!read more
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They made our process so easy. They were there to answer and help with any questions that came up. Very friendly
Ashley Hubner
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20:30 14 Feb 20
Navigating my divorce was a challenging experience to say the least, but I was supported and guided every step of the... way by my attorney, Robert. With the daunting task of hiring a divorce lawyer, I knew I would need someone with the right combination of knowledge, compassion and integrity. Robert has a strong background in family law, sincere character and direct communication to be superior to the others. He and his staff were professional and caring. I always felt I was in good hands. I highly recommend the Law Offices Hornberger and Verbitsky for the legal expertise, compassion and understanding of the many complex facets associated with divorce.read more
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23:35 14 Jan 20
Robert Hornberger has been a friend of mine and my family for years. He has helped us all in ways that are too... numerable to mention. I went through a divorce that I don’t think I could’ve done if I didn’t have Robert by my side. He is vivacious, motivated, knowledgeable, and has an extreme desire to succeed and excel...and he does! He goes over and above for all of his clientele. I would recommend his law firm to anybody who is looking for a Great Lawyer with integrity!read more
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