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Retirement Plans and Divorce

Melbourne Attorneys Advise on Retirement Plans and Divorce

Florida firm pursues fair division of all assets accumulated during a marriage

Spouses who have decided to end their marriage must face the prospect that their marital estate will be divided between them as they go their separate ways. Often, parties to a divorce focus most on the marital home and vehicles. However, under Florida’s equitable distribution law, you need to remember that the value you and your spouse have accumulated in your retirement plans over the course of your marriage is also subject to dispersal. The experienced attorneys at Tucker Mitnik P.A. in Melbourne, Florida can help you understand your situation and the holdings that could be dispersed based on what the judge in your case thinks is fair. In negotiations, mediation and litigation, we will make every effort to secure an appropriate result so that your financial future is protected.

What is considered a retirement plan?

Ownership of assets in various types of retirement instruments can be divisible during a divorce, including:

  • Investments in 401(k) accounts and similar vehicles
  • Standard Individual Retirement Accounts and Roth IRAs
  • Stocks and stock options
  • Bonds
  • Annuities
  • Equity in life insurance policies
  • Military pension and retirement benefits
  • Employee pensions and retirement plans

Depending on the facts in your case, it might take extensive work and creativity to achieve a fair compromise. For instance, assigning an accurate value to stock options and other speculative investments could require consultation with experts. After analyzing your retirement assets and your spouse’s, our firm develops a strategy for dividing the marital estate fairly.

Can each party choose to keep their own retirement benefits?

If both divorcing spouses have a retirement account, it is possible that each might simply maintain their own investments and go their separate ways. However, this might not be the case. As an equitable distribution state, Florida is required to determine what is a fair split of marital assets when the union is dissolved. A spouse who worked for a couple of years of the marriage, then took care of the home and children for 20 years after that likely would have much less in their personal retirement account than their spouse who worked outside the home.

How a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) can be used

When you get divorced, you might be decades away from the time when you can access your retirement funds without penalty. This makes dividing these assets much trickier than splitting the funds in a joint bank account. Assets that one partner accumulates in a 401(k), IRA or other type of retirement account are typically part of the marital estate. Frequently, a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) is established at the time of the divorce to allow the non-participant spouse to maintain an equitable share of a retirement account for use when the time comes. If you have questions about your specific situation, we can explain what your QDRO might look like.

Distribution of military and federal employment benefits

Federal workers who have accumulated benefits through the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) or Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) are subject to divorce orders that allocate these benefits between them and their ex-spouse. This means that ownership of an annuity could be split between the couple or that contributions to a retirement system might be refunded. We assist government employees with these issues and can also explain the rules governing the division of retirement pay and other benefits in a military divorce. Determinations regarding the spouses of service members are usually based on the number of years the spouse seeking benefits was married to the individual while they were in the armed forces.

Contact a Florida divorce lawyer to discuss the division of retirement accounts

Tucker Mitnik P.A. in Melbourne advises spouses regarding the distribution of retirement funds and other aspects of the Florida divorce process. For a consultation, please call 321-392-5239 or contact us online.

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  • Melbourne Office
    5425 Village Drive
    Suite 105
    Viera, Florida 32955
    Phone: 321-735-8956