Montana Public Employee Retirement Administration

What happens to your retirement benefit if you divorce?

There can be different scenarios that occur depending on what retirement system you are in and the terms of your divorce decree. By understanding the rules that apply to the system you have retired from, will help you understand where you stand when you are faced with divorce.

If you are a retiree going through a divorce under one of the following systems:

and receiving a benefit under Option 2 or 3, you can do one of the following options if your contingent annuitant has no claim to your benefit in the divorce decree:

  • Revert to the higher Option 1 retirement benefit that was available at the time of your retirement, plus any guaranteed annual benefit adjustments (GABA) you have received; or
  • Change your benefit Option and name a new contingent annuitant; or
  • Keep the same Option and name a new contingent annuitant.

Please note your retirement benefit calculation will change if you select Option 1. Also, if you select a new contingent annuitant your benefit amount will change because the calculations are based on your age and your new contingent annuitant’s age at the time of the election.

To change your payment option or contingent annuitant, you must contact MPERA in writing within 18 months of the divorce from the contingent with your request to make a change, and a copy of the divorce decree will be requested.

If you are a retiree under the following systems:

and your benefit is designated to your spouse that you’re divorcing, it is important to notify us and to complete a new beneficiary form. There are circumstances to which your benefit could continue monthly to a dependent child in the absence of a surviving spouse. The definition of a dependent child would be:

  • A child of a deceased member who is not married and:
  • under 18 years of age,
  • under 24 years of age and is a full-time student enrolled in an accredited post-secondary educational institution.

In the absence of a surviving spouse and dependent child, your benefit will not continue monthly to anyone in the event of your passing. Contact MPERA with any additional questions.