How are Retirement Funds Divided During a Divorce?
Some of the most difficult decisions that a divorcing couple will have to deal with involve the distribution of their assets. In Florida, all property acquired during a marriage is considered to be a marital asset and so belongs to both parties. While most people know that this includes real estate, income, and personal belongings, not all are aware that retirement funds also fall under this category. If you are considering a divorce and have questions about how your own retirement accounts and other assets will be divided, it is important to contact a property division attorney who can address your concerns.
It is not uncommon for people to forget to routinely monitor the contents of their retirement accounts. However, this is a critical step when considering divorce, as keeping extensive and accurate records of retirement fund contributions can make all the difference in how quickly the divorce process is completed. Records indicating the dates when retirement accounts were created or supplemented are especially critical, as they will help establish whether the funds were accumulated during, prior to, or after the marriage. This is an important point because generally, all funds that were contributed during the marriage will need to be equitably distributed between the parties.
Contribution and Benefit Plans
How retirement funds are divided will depend largely on the type of account in question. For example, under defined benefit plans, which are often referred to as pension plans, the account holder is guaranteed a specific sum upon retirement. This amount can be paid out periodically or in a single lump sum payment. In the event of a divorce, the ex-spouse may be able to collect a portion of the present value of the account at the time of divorce, usually in the form of a one time lump sum, or cash out payment, although he or she could also choose to receive payments later, at the time of retirement. Defined contribution plans, on the other hand, don’t pay a specific benefit upon retirement, but allow the account holder to save money in a tax-deferred account. In these cases, the account balance will be multiplied by a percentage of vesting, which is divided again between the parties.
There are additional rules that apply specifically to government and military retirement accounts and benefit plans, making it especially important for those who have these types of accounts and are going through a divorce, to speak with an attorney prior to reaching a settlement.
Schedule a Free Consultation with an Experienced Property Division Attorney
If you are considering filing for divorce and have funds saved in a retirement account, such as a 301(k), a Roth IRA, or a pension plan, you may be required to divide some or all of the savings with your ex-spouse upon dissolving your marriage. To learn more about your legal options, please call dedicated Fort Lauderdale property division attorney Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. at 954-945-7591 for a free evaluation of your case.