– from Keith T. in West Bend, WI

Question Details:

I have been married for over 30 years, but we are now parting ways. Before we begin any proceedings, I want to know if my federal railroad retirement pension can be divided as a part of our marital property?

Family Law Attorney Response:

This question, believe it or not, comes up quite often. Courts have gone back and forth on this topic for years as to whether or not a railroad pension should be directly or indirectly considered as a part of the value of marital property.

In the case of Rommelfanger v. Rommelfanger, 114 Wis. 2d 175, 337 N.W.2d 851 (Ct. App. 1983), its value was taken into consideration. Upon appeal, this was reversed due to the fact that a non-employee's spouse has no rights to the pension in the circumstance of divorce. However, since this decision, congress has amended the Railroad Retirement Act to consider annuities as community property while dividing marital property.

My advice would be to seek legal counsel right away to go over the details, and to find the proper course of action.

Dan Exner, J.D.

Family Law Attorney

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