Boca Raton Divorce for Police & Fire Lawyer
One of the most complicated aspects of any divorce is the equitable division of retirement benefits and pensions. In Florida, the issue of pension division is uniquely complex when one spouse has acquired financial interests in a pension as a law enforcement officer or firefighter. Below, our Boca Raton divorce lawyer explains further.
Dividing Private Pensions
Pensions are generally defined as a benefit plan that pays out benefits on a monthly basis to a person once they retire and become eligible. Typically in a divorce, it must be determined which share of the retirement plan is considered marital property. Marital property refers to any assets or liabilities acquired during the marriage, which includes any interest on a pension or retirement account.
It is important to note that in Florida, pensions and retirement accounts are not always divided equally. Instead, all marital property is divided fairly. The whole of the marital estate, as well as the relevant situations of the parties involved, are considered. When determining how to divide pensions and retirement benefits, the couple may negotiate a fair settlement or a judge may issue a property division order. In either case, a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) is usually necessary to ensure the spouse who is not named on the account receives their fair share.
Dividing Pensions for Firefighters and Law Enforcement Officers
In Boca Raton, as throughout the rest of the state, pensions that are publicly funded, including those earned by firefighters and law enforcement officers, are governed by specific state laws. These are vastly different from the laws that govern private pensions. If the firefighter or law enforcement officer works for the county or state, their pension is part of the Florida Retirement System. When a firefighter or police officer works for a municipal government, other local laws may also apply.
Under state law, benefits that are part of the Florida Retirement System are not subject to any legal process. Case law in Florida has also determined that these pensions cannot be divided during divorce because state law prohibits it. These retirement benefits are also not subject to QDROs so couples and the courts must look to other ways to fairly divide these benefits. Some options include:
- Increasing the amount of alimony the other spouse receives, or providing them with other assets during property division hearings
- Creating a trust that can be used to deposit future pension payments by the public pension administrator
- Deferred Retirement Option Plans, also known as DROPS, which allow for pension payments to be deposited at the age of retirement if the law enforcement officer or firefighter choose to continue to receive their regular salary
Call Our Boca Raton Divorce Lawyer for Police and Fire Today
If you or your spouse is a firefighter or police officer and you are now getting a divorce, it is critical that you know your legal options. At Williams & Varsegi, our Boca Raton divorce for police and fire lawyer can advise you of what those are and help you obtain the full and fair settlement you deserve. Call us now at 954-255-5655 or contact us online to schedule a consultation and to learn more.