Because your pension is generally considered a marital asset, it may be subject to division in a divorce. A domestic relations order (DRO) is a judgement, decree or order that sets out how your retirement benefits are to be divided in a divorce. It must be reviewed and accepted by your retirement system prior to your retirement to ensure it complies with Massachusetts General Laws and is enforceable. Child support orders can also affect how your pension is distributed in retirement.
Guide Divorce, Child Support, and your Retirement Benefits
Download Guide to Domestic Relations Orders and Sample DRO
- The Massachusetts Teachers' Retirement System has published a useful guide on this topic:
- The Department of Higher Education also has a sample DRO you can download
- Please note these guides and sample DRO's are provided for guidance purposes.
- This should not be considered legal advice.
- Contact your retirement system to file your DRO prior to applying for retirement benefits.
- See our list of Massachusetts Public Retirement Systems if you are not sure which system to contact.
Child Support Orders
- If you owe past child support, your retirement allowance, or contributions if requesting a refund, can be attached to satisfy that order before you receive any benefits.
- No support order can create a benefit or entitlement inconsistent with retirement law.
- Retirement systems must comply with the Act to Improve the Massachusetts Child Support Enforcement Program.
Divorce after retirement
- If your spouse was your Option C beneficiary when you retired and you later divorced, he/she will remain your Option C beneficiary.
- You cannot make changes to the Option C beneficiary once you retire, even if you remarry.