Splitting Retirement Assets
When you restructure your family through a divorce, you have to split up your assets, and that includes your retirement accounts. An Atlanta divorce lawyer can let you know what to expect in your situation. But to help you prepare, here’s a look at some essentials.
Georgia Is an Equitable Division State
Like most other states, Georgia is an equitable division state. That doesn’t mean that the courts have to divide assets exactly in half. Rather, it means they need to be distributed fairly.
Splitting Retirement Accounts
In a lot of cases, just one spouse’s name appears on retirement accounts. Sometimes, that spouse may be able to keep the entire retirement account, while the other spouse takes something else of value. For instance, if the couple has a car and a retirement account that are about the same value, one may take the retirement account, and the other may take the car. In other cases, the court may direct the couple to split the retirement account based on certain percentages. For example, one spouse may take 30% of the account, and the other may take 70% of the funds.
Determining the Split
When you work with an Atlanta divorce lawyer, they can represent your interests and ensure you get the largest share possible of these assets. But in amicable splits, an Atlanta divorce lawyer can also help you work with your spouse to find an arrangement that works for everyone involved. When deciding how the split retirement accounts, the court considers who contributed to the retirement account, but it also takes into account the following details:
- Contributions made by the spouse who doesn’t own the retirement account — To explain, in some cases, only one spouse may have an employer who offers a 401(k). While married, the couple may decide to maximize that spouse’s contributions and offset that amount by the other spouse’s earnings.
- The number of years retirement account contributions were made during the marriage — If all the contributions were made before the marriage, the court may view that differently than if all the contributions were made during the marriage.
- Expectations and planned reliance on these benefits for the future — If both partners planned to use those funds for retirement, the courts may suggest a relatively even split.
The courts also take into account intangible contributions. For instance, if one spouse worked and contributed to their 401(k) and the other stayed home with the children, the stay-at-home spouse may have some claim to the funds even though they didn’t directly contribute.
Handling the Split
Once the courts and your Atlanta divorce lawyer determine how your retirement accounts are going to be split, you need to complete some paperwork. IRAs can be easily transferred from one party to another, but if you have a 401(k) or an employer-sponsored pension, you generally need a Qualified Domestic Relations Order from the judge to finalize the process.
Do you need an Atlanta divorce lawyer? When they need a divorce lawyer Atlanta residents turn to Daniele Johnson and Associates. In addition to helping clients with asset division, we focus on divorce, custody, child and spousal support, visitation, and other family law matters. To learn more, contact us today. We’re here to help you.
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