Public employees are eligible to receive retirement pensions through Nevada’s Public Employees’ Retirement System, or PERS.
The PERS plan is what is called a defined benefit plan. This means that, upon retirement, a person will receive regular payments from the plan in a fixed amount.
The employee and public agency will typically both make contributions to the plan while the employee is working, with the employee chipping in through a paycheck deduction.
The retirement payments can be quite generous, which is good news for the public employee, as she may be able to retire off of the PERS pension alone.
Police officers, firefighters and other public employees are eligible to participate in PERS.
An employee’s interest in a PERS pension will have to be divided in a divorce
Like other marital property, the court will divide a PERS pension according to Nevada’s community property laws. There may be some issue as to whether and to what extent a PERS plan is marital property, especially if a Las Vegas public servant had his job long before he got married.
A divorcing couple will also have to agree on, or a court will have to decide, what the lump sum value of the pension is presently. This can be difficult since, unlike a 401(k), pensions are monthly benefits with no overall balance. It will likely to take an expert to explain the lump sum value of a PERS pension.
Finally, the dividing of the pension itself can present obstacles. The couple may elect to execute a qualified domestic relations order, or QDRO, in order to divide the pension without incurring tax penalties. However, the employee with the pension may also wish to pay off her spouse by other means in order to keep the benefit outright.
Handling a PERS pension or other defined benefit retirement plan during a divorce or separation can be complicated, but a Las Vegas resident can still accomplish his goals with the right legal help.