FindLaw KnowledgeBasePublished: 2013-01-08
Divorce can be a very emotional and draining experience, especially when it comes to the many decisions that must be made in regards to a couple’s assets. There are some occasions where the couple is able to navigate through the process and efficiently divide what they own in a fair and peaceful manner. Often, however, a couple may find themselves at odds over certain assets or particular decisions.
Being armed with knowledge and able to assess important considerations are vital to making the divorce process less stressful. Of particular concern will be to account for retirement assets and pensions. Unfortunately, the law governing these situations is very complicated, with many tax considerations that must be properly addressed.
Begin by keeping this in mind: when it comes to retirement funds, anything added during the course of the marriage is treated as marital property. Marital property is considered to be jointly owned by the couple and is considered an asset when dividing up items during a divorce.
A Qualified Domestic Relations Order is often required when dividing a 401k plan or pension plans. This QDRO instructs the administrator of the plan on how to distribute the benefits. Settlement agreements do not ensure the rights to a retirement account, which is why QDROs are extremely important to the ex-spouse.
To help ensure that no problems arise, this QDRO must be completed and brought to the pension plan before the divorce is finalized. The plan works to distribute money on a month-to-month basis and not in a lump sum, which can prove troublesome to the ex-spouse trying to use the money to pay for legal fees. Problems can also arise if the divorce is finalized while the QDRO is not and the ex-spouse dies.
Obtaining assistance with retirement assets
Because of the importance of the QDRO, it is crucial that an expert legal professional works to ensure that proper procedures are followed. In the event of a misstep, an ex-spouse may miss out on money to which he or she is rightfully entitled.
Experienced family law attorneys in the state of Florida know the procedures and state law and have experience with cases that involve retirement plans and accounts. Family law attorneys are also able to help a divorcing spouse with paternity matters, alimony, child support and child custody. These attorneys work to attain positive outcomes through effective legal strategies. With the complications that the law provides, it is of the utmost important to seek the assistance of a family law attorney in order to make the process of divorce a smooth, efficient and fair one.