Can My Lazy Husband Take My Pension if We Divorce?

An illustration shows a torn photograph splitting a husband and wife in two pieces.

Adobe Stock, Getty Images and Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

Dear Penny,

A couple, together 20 years but not really a couple anymore, is together because they can’t afford to get a divorce. She retired after 30 years of hell from her employer and gets a pension. Both get Social Security. any of her pension when he didn’t earn it?

Also, she sold HER house, used the money to buy a house for both of them, then they sold that house to buy the one they currently live in together, also using part of her retirement package to do so. He’s never had any money to put in and never had anything to help. She has always made more money.

Can she get back what she originally got out of HER house when she sold it? Why would he get an equal share when she’s always paid more for everything? Without her having a house, they wouldn’t have the house they’re living in now.


Dear J.,

I’m assuming the “she” is you, Letter Writer. Though I’ll do my best to explain how property division works in divorce, you have two basic options. You can schedule an appointment with a divorce attorney to discuss how your assets would likely be split. Or you can accept that you’re stuck with your husband till death do you part.

Typically, only marital property — property acquired while you were married — gets split during a divorce. Marital property generally can include money you earned, retirement accounts you contributed to, homes and vehicles you purchased, etc. Separate property that befor you acquired marriage, plus gifts and inheritances made exclusively to one spouse — typically won’t get divvied up by a judge.

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