What will happen with my 401k and retirement plan in our Carlsbad divorce? Retirement and pensions is often something a client hasn’t even thought about when we bring up the subject of property division. “You mean (she/he) gets HALF of my retirement?”
Money, especially money associated with retirement, deeply concerns most of our clients. In many cases, especially when the underlying marriage has lasted longer than 10 years, your retirement accounts as a whole represent one of the largest assets you have.
What will happen with my 401k and retirement plan in our Carlsbad divorce? Generally speaking, any contributions you made to retirement accounts or pensions during the course of the marriage and/or the actual increase in value to the account itself will be part of the process of community property division.
Unfortunately, while the Court has the legal jurisdiction to determine how these assets will be divided there is another substantial legal issue: the Qualified Domestic Relations Order or QDRO. The orders issued by the Court settle the issue between the party but the QDRO is the actual legal instrument which provides the instructions to the manager of the retirement account or pension on how the account is to be divided.
The vast majority of 401ks, pension plans, State Retirement Systems and retirement accounts have specific language which must be properly formatted within the QDRO. Basically, every retirement vehicle has it’s own QDRO. If this important legal document is not properly formatted and legal correct in every word and phrase the plan cannot execute it and you’re in for a long and expensive legal process to resolve it.
An improperly constructed QDRO (or worse, no QDRO at all) will result in a substantial financial loss for the spouse of the account holder. This is why it is so important to work with the Certified Family Law Specialists at Burke & Domercq.
What will happen with my 401k and retirement plan in our Carlsbad divorce? How do I best preserve these important assets and all my interests in our divorce?