Whoever marries not only swears eternal love, but also agrees to a community of property. “Mine” and “yours” become “ours” – until the divorce comes. As if the dispute over furniture, dishes and the house weren’t bad enough, couples then also have to split up their assets – including the pension. All pension entitlements that partners acquire during the marriage are considered joint lifetime benefits and thus belong equally to both parties.
A divorce dissolves the agreed community of property and divides everything by two. If one of the partners earned better and thus achieved higher pension entitlements during the marriage, he must transfer half of the surplus to the ex, so that, in purely mathematical terms, both partners have paid the same amount into the pension fund during the time as a married couple. When a divorce is submitted, the family court determines how high the compensation amount is in each individual case during the annulment proceedings. The only exceptions are marriages and civil partnerships that have lasted less than three years. Or if the couple waives the settlement and, for example, agrees on an asset settlement.
If there is a pension equalization, ex-partners find out in the divorce decree how much of their statutory, private and company pension they have to cede to the other. If the amount is only small, for example because both have earned approximately the same amount, the family court will waive any compensation. Conversely, the greater the income difference in the marriage, the more ex-partners have to resign. In retirement, some divorced pensioners have to forego several hundred euros a month – until the end of their life.
Pensioners can only regain their pension entitlements that they believed to have been lost in a special case: If the ex-partner dies prematurely, the insured are entitled to their full pension. There are only two problems with this: Many former couples no longer have contact after the divorce, especially if the partnership has ended in an argument and there are no children together. Insured people often do not even notice when the ex dies. But that is crucial. Because the partner who has lived longer will only get his full pension back if he applies. Without an application, the money remains in the pension fund’s fund. This does not inform the surviving partner of its own accord.
If pensioners know of the death of their ex, the easiest way to get their assigned pension entitlements is if the former partner died before retirement or did not receive a pension for more than 36 months. Then a simple application for “adjustment due to death”, for example to the German pension insurance, is sufficient.
If the ex has already drawn a pension for more than three years, the insured must go to the family court and apply for a recalculation of the compensation. This is also possible if the pension insurer has rejected the application beforehand. The legal process is usually very complicated. In many cases it is advisable to go to a lawyer, as courts decide very differently in such cases.
Regardless of which path the insured takes, they should act quickly. Because the extra money does not exist retrospectively for the time before the application is submitted. If you only find out about the death of your ex a year later, you may have unwittingly waived thousands of euros.
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