We’re in divorce mediation. Can we keep our pensions?

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Q. My husband and I are going through divorce mediation and plan to keep our own respective pensions, not split them. Can we do that?
— Wife-for-now

A. Divorce can be a very difficult time.

But many couples make it less painful — and less costly — with the mediation process rather than using litigation.

“Not only does mediation afford divorcing spouses the opportunity to resolve their issues amicably and absent need for the significant cost and expense associated with litigation, parties who participate in mediation or other forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution are free to enter into agreements that suit their individual needs and desires,” said Jeralyn Lawrence, a family law attorney with Lawrence Law in Watchung.

She said the parties participating in mediation are fully in control of the outcome. They have the opportunity to think “outside of the box” to resolve difficult issues such as support, distribution of marital assets and debts and issues involving children, Lawrence said.

“There exists no law or court rule prohibiting or otherwise restricting divorcing spouses from agreeing to maintain their personal assets, which include retirement assets, post-divorce,” she said. “If it is agreeable to both parties, each can certainly keep their respective pensions and not divide them.”

She recommends the values of these pensions be known before any agreement is made.

Lawrence said she encourages clients to participate in mediation or other modes of Alternative Dispute Resolution because these options allow couples to come to resolutions in creative and efficient manners that might otherwise be prohibited by law.

Good luck to you.

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This story was originally published on Jan. 8, 2020.

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