How are retirement accounts valued and divided in a San Diego divorce? Many of those who begin the process of a divorce in San Diego have not given any consideration to one of the largest assets of their marriage: retirement accounts. In many cases the value of retirement plans and accounts can actually exceed the amount of equity in the family home.
Before you begin the process of having retirement accounts valued and divided in a San Diego divorce, the nature of that marital asset must be established. Is the retirement plan or account in question a community asset, a separate asset or a blend of the two? Generally speaking, anything either of you earned or saved from the date of your marriage to the date of separation is considered to be a community asset. If a retirement plan or account was established prior to the marriage the Court (or another process such as mediation) must determine the amount of the retirement asset which is considered to be community property and that which may be the separate property of the account or plan holder.
Another important issue in the process of having retirement accounts valued and divided in a San Diego divorce is the legal instrument which actually separates the retirement asset based upon the order of the Court. Retirement plan administrators require a complex legal document known as a Qualified Domestic Relations Order or QDRO. Each plan usually has it’s own specific language which must be present in order to accurately divide the account in question. It is not enough for the Court to simply order the division of a retirement asset. The QDRO is an important legal document which ensures the plan administrator properly divides the asset and either disperses funds to the non-account holder or sets up a separate account for them under the plan in question.
These are financially and legally complex questions and a simple mistake can literally cost either party tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. This is why it is so important to seek the proven advice and counsel of the Certified Family Law Specialists at Burke & Domercq.