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Dividing Retirement Assets When A Marriage Ends

Retirement assets – such as a pension or a defined-contribution plan – can be a substantial part of a couple’s shared marital estate. If you and your spouse decide to divorce, the equitable division of your retirement accounts can present numerous questions and challenges. A mistake made when dividing the retirement money can mean the benefits offered by the plan could be unavailable when they are most needed.

The Ramage Law Group focuses their practice on family law matters and more specifically on divorce. Our attorneys understand the intricacies of retirement asset division and can guide you through the process so that this aspect of your divorce does not have negative repercussions later on.

What Is A Qualified Domestic Relations Order?

During the property division section of your divorce settlement process, the judge overseeing your case will issue a domestic relations order to assign a property interest to your spouse. This will make them an “alternate payee” to your account so that they receive the amount that has been agreed upon. The order is not complete, however, until it has been qualified by the plan administrator. The domestic relations order cannot force the retirement plan to do something that the plan does not offer. And if your plan is governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), your order must meet all ERISA requirements before being considered valid.

Qualification also means that each part of the order must be properly filled out. Some common mistakes that can doom a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) include:

  • Incorrect naming of the plan
  • Monetary awards to the alternate payee exceeding the balance in the account
  • Apportionment instructions that ignore how much of the plan money is vested and how much is not
  • Requiring a lump-sum payout or another payment method not allowed by the plan

When it comes to drafting a QDRO, attention to detail matters. Our firm’s 401k divorce division lawyers are focused on understanding the retirement accounts involved in your divorce and ensuring the outcome of the negotiation sets you up for a secure and properly-funded retirement.

Protect Your Future – Trust Us For Retirement Account Advice

Whether your retirement funds are in a military retirement account, a pension, or another type of plan, come to The Ramage Law Group for candid advice and creative ideas for divorce settlement solutions. We serve the north Dallas communities of Frisco, McKinney, Plano and Allen, Texas, and generally Collin and Denton counties. Set up an introductory appointment by calling us at 972-562-9890 or emailing us.