I have found that NY City teachers who seek a divorce in New York are particularly stunned when they learn that their TDA (Tax Deferred Annuity) and their Pensions are MARITAL PROPERTY and that their husbands or wives are entitled to a share of this asset. What can a teacher do to protect their assets? Well, if you are not married yet, make sure you get a prenup and in the pre nup you specify that your pension and TDA are off limits. If you are already married, the portion of your retirement savings that was earned during the marriage is marital property. If your spouse insists on it, there is probably nothing you can do, unless there is another asset you own that you are willing to use as leverage. Under normal circumstances, this asset is divided up proportionally, and the court will order a QDRO (Qualified Domestic Relations Order) which is just a fancy name for an order that tells the Pension Administrator the amount of your retirement income that should go to your spouse when you retire.
The Tax deferred annuity can be distributed prior to your retirement and usually your spouse can roll over from your account to their own IRA or annuity.
If your spouse also has a pension or retirement income, you can both stipulate to waive a right to any portion of the benefits of the other upon retirement.