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Home > Divorce > Property Division in Divorce > Division of Pension & Retirement Accounts

Claremont Division of Pension & Retirement Accounts Attorneys

The division of assets is one of the most complicated and labor-intensive parts of many divorces.  When the parties have complex or atypical assets, matters can become even more in-depth.  While retirement plans and pensions are common, their treatment in divorce can nevertheless raise challenging issues of law and fact.  If you are facing a divorce that will involve retirement plans owned by one or both spouses, it is important to have a knowledgeable and experienced asset division attorney on your side.

At Blasser Law, the dedicated and detail-oriented Claremont retirement asset divorce lawyers have years of experience allocating retirement funds in California divorces and helping clients protect the assets they value most.

Are Retirement Assets Subject to Division Upon Divorce?

California is a community property state.  That means all of your marital property, both assets and debts, will be equally divided upon divorce.  With limited exception, any property obtained during the marriage is presumed to be community property.  “Property” includes tangible assets such as real estate, as well as intangible assets like bank accounts and stocks.  In California, each party is presumptively entitled to half of the couple’s community property.

Your 401k, pension benefits, IRA, and any other kind of retirement asset can be considered marital property.  Any account that was created and contributed to during the divorce will be considered marital property, up to the point of divorce.  Accounts created before the marriage but which grew during the marriage could be partially separate and partially community property.  The spouse of the participant may be entitled to a percentage of the value of the plan based on the length of the marriage, i.e., how many years the plan existed before and after the marriage vs. how many years the plan was growing during the marriage.

The actual calculation of the separate and community portions of a retirement plan can be an extremely tricky process.  If you are dealing with a retirement plan in your divorce, it is vital that you have an attorney in your corner with a deep understanding of the legal and financial issues, and who knows how to ensure a fair division process that allows you to protect your valuable financial interests.

How to Divide a Retirement Plan

There are generally two options for dividing a retirement plan during a divorce.  The parties or court may decide that the participant spouse will retain the complete value of the retirement plan, while the other spouse will be allocated an equivalent amount in other community property assets.  If both spouses have their own retirement accounts, this may be a much easier resolution than actually dividing up the retirement account.

The parties or court might also decide that the non-participant spouse will receive a portion of retirement benefits when the participant spouse begins receiving their benefits upon retirement.  Certain steps must be taken once the parties and court determine how the funds will be divided.  Many types of retirement plans, including 401k plans, can only disburse funds to someone other than the participant (such as an ex-spouse) with a court order.  A key part of any divorce involving retirement assets is the Qualified Domestic Relations Order.

Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDROs)

A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) is a special court order for dealing with retirement plans in divorce.  A QDRO gives retirement plan companies the authority to divide certain benefits and send them to someone other than the plan participant.  The QDRO will lay out specifically how to calculate the benefits that are owed to each party.  Many types of retirement plans must actually be added to the divorce as a party in order to obtain a QDRO.  The process for obtaining, drafting, and executing a QDRO is highly technical and requires an experienced asset division attorney.

Our Claremont Family Law Attorneys will Ensure You Get Seasoned Advice and Assistance when Dividing Retirement Assets in a California Divorce

For experienced, considered, and talented legal help with dividing a pension or retirement account in a California divorce, or for assistance with any asset division or other family law matters, contact the passionate and successful Claremont family law attorneys at Blasser Law for a free consultation at 877-927-2181.

Blasser Law

445 West Foothill Blvd., Suite 108
Claremont, CA 91711




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