How Retirement Benefits Are Divided in Divorce

In a divorce, you may be worried about who gets the house, the living room furniture or the shared family vehicle. But many divorcees overlook one of the most important assets they have: retirement benefits.

If your spouse has a pension or other retirement plan, you may be entitled to at least some of those retirement assets in divorce.

Retirement Plans And Divorce: Doing The Math

California is a community property state, which means that assets acquired during the marriage are generally considered jointly owned and are therefore divisible. This can also apply to the appreciation of assets, even if those assets were obtained prior to marriage.

Depending on when a pension, IRA or 401(k) account was created and how long the couple was married, it can sometimes be difficult to determine what the community property portion of these assets are (it isn't always a 50-50 split). Therefore, it's important to seek the help of an experienced attorney to ensure that you are receiving the portion of retirement assets that you are legally entitled to.

Similarly, you need the help of a skilled lawyer when drafting or negotiating a qualified domestic relations order. A QDRO is a directive to the administrator of your pension plan to give a specified amount or percentage of that plan to your ex-spouse upon finalization of the divorce or at another specific time. These documents are not standard forms, and they need to be carefully drafted to ensure that your interests are being protected.

An Attorney Solving Complex Financial Issues

I am attorney Linda D. States, and I have nearly two decades of experience in family law. One of my strengths in this area of law is helping clients clarify and resolve complex financial issues, including those related to dividing retirement benefits in divorce.

I know which measures to take to protect client interests, including joining retirement plans. And if a certain issue can most appropriately be addressed by an outside expert, I will refer clients to those experts to ensure that the issue is resolved in the most beneficial way possible.

Help Is Just A Phone Call Away

The Law Office of Linda D. States is located in Sacramento and serves clients throughout the area. To learn how I can protect your financial future in divorce, call me at 916-426-9119 or fill out my online contact form.