What if I participated in my pension plan before I got married?

Whether or not benefits earned prior to marriage are included or excluded in the present value process depends upon the type of property model followed in a respective state.

In an All property Model state, typically, all property owned by one or both parties on the cut-off date is included in the marital estate, even if some of that property was actually acquired prior to marriage.

In a Dual Property Model state, only that property which was actually acquired during the period of marriage would be included in the marital estate. Therefore, any portion of the pension which was earned prior to the marriage would be excluded during the present value analysis. Typically, the appraiser will apply a coverture fraction against the present value of all benefits earned by the employee in order to differentiate that portion which was actually accumulated during the period of marriage.