You’ve worked hard over the years to support your spouse, take care of the children and make sure you also bring in an income. Now, you know that you and your spouse want to get a divorce, but you were relying on the pension that he’s entitled to in the future. Will you still be able to seek this pension if you get a divorce?

Every retirement system is different, but most will pay a portion of a pension to a person’s ex-wife or ex-husband. Additionally, the ex-wife or ex-husband may receive a benefit if the other ex-spouse passes away.

How do you find out the rules of your spouse’s pension? Start by talking to your attorney. Your attorney will need to speak directly with the organization holding the pension to determine which rights you have and what you’ll need to do to claim the benefits you deserve.

What’s the most common kind of pension plan?

It’s most common for a pension plan to pay out money to an employee at retirement. The funds for the pensions are usually invested, so they grow until payout. Your spouse has one of two kinds of pensions, either a defined contribution or defined benefit plan. If he has a defined benefit plan, then there are already specific benefits that he will receive upon retirement. With a defined contribution plan, the employer contributes a portion of income to the pension each year but doesn’t state the amount in benefits the employee will receive once he or she retires.

It’s easier to know what a pension is worth if your spouse has a defined benefit plan. If he doesn’t, the value of the plan still needs to be understood before you can find out how much you’re entitled to.

There are a few things that could impact your ability to collect on your ex-spouse’s pension plan. For example, if he stops working today, will the pension still be paid to him, or will he lose his rights to it? When does he plan on retiring? You won’t be able to collect until he chooses to stop working.

Your attorney knows about different pensions and what they could mean for you after divorce. It’s a good idea to bring as much information about your spouse’s pension plan to your attorney’s office as possible, so he or she can make calls and find out what you should expect following divorce.