Usually, in distribution of property, any employee pension plans the spouses participate in make it into the pot. Unless a spouse waives rights to a pension plan, he or she will usually be granted a portion based on earnings that went into the pension while the couple were married.
In many — perhaps most — cases, the spouse with the pension plan in question will still be working when they divorce, so that pension benefits haven’t started being distributed yet (plans usually start paying out either when the employee retires or when he or she hits a certain age). The court will usually issue a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) setting out how the pension funds will be divided between the divorcing spouses when the plan starts distributing. The QDRO will then be provided to the pension plan administrator.
Photo credit: mootown