In Divorce Cases Pensions Must be Valued As Martial Property In Maryland Unless an if, as and When Distriburion is Agreed Upon
In Maryland it has long been the law that pensions are marital property unless they pre-date the marriage. In most cases the parties agree upon an if, as and when distribution meaning that the portion of the pension earned by the non-receiving spouse will be distributed when the spouse receiving the benefits receives his or her portion of their pension based on the number of years of the marriage and the number of years that the pension was earned. However if an if, as and when distribution is not agreed upon, the pension must be valued as marital property in order for the court to value it as marital property. In a recent unreported case from the Court of Special Appeals, Sposato v Sposato, No. 2161, September Term 2006 which was filed on March 20, 2008, the trial judge ruled that each of the parties could keep their respective pensions and then made a marital award to the wife not related to the pensions. The Court of Special Appeals reversed the ruling with respect to the pensions and held that the marital award had to be vacated to include the values of the pensions so that a full marital award could be made. Thus it is important in preparing a family law case for trial that parties’ pensions be valued by an annuitist or other qualified professional if the parties do not agree on the distribution of the pensions on an if, as and when basis.