How are pensions typically divided on divorce in Virginia?

By Carolyn Grimes
November 04, 2016

A pension that’s really a pension, where it’s the amount of money paid monthly when someone retires, is divided by what's called the Marital Curvature Fracture, which sounds really scary but it's really simple. It's divided by a fraction. The numerator is the time on the job during the marriage divided by the total time on the job. Typically, 50% is the division for retirement. It doesn't have to be 50%, but it's typical.

That gives you a percentage where you basically get half of the pension that was accrued during the marriage. That percentage is applied to the actual pension paid at the time of retirement, and that's what the former spouse gets. When there's a cost-of-living increase, a COLA on the pension because the former spouse has a percentage share, they get a percentage share of the cost-of-living increase, too. That's a pretty common way to divide pensions across state lines. It's not prescribed. Generally, it's not the law in Virginia but it's the way it can be done and the way it almost always is done.

Carolyn Grimes is a family lawyer at the law firm of Wade Grimes Friedman Sutter & Leischner PLLC in Alexandria, Virginia. To learn more about Grimes and her firm, visit

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November 04, 2016
Categories:  FAQs

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