If you are getting a divorce, it’s important to know that retirement accounts and pension funds will likely be subject to equitable division before the divorce can be finalized. At the Law Office of Heather M. Ward, our experienced divorce attorney can help you to understand the law and your options for dividing retirement accounts in a divorce, as well as the basics of a domestic relations order (DRO). Call today to get started.
Are Retirement Funds Divisible in a Massachusetts Divorce?
Many people who are getting divorced have questions about whether their retirement funds are divisible during a divorce, especially if they have been the sole contributor to those funds. The answer is yes: even if you (and perhaps your employer) have been the primary contributor to your retirement accounts or pension fund, it is very likely that your retirement accounts will be considered marital assets and be subject to equitable division; at the very least, the value of the funds contributed during the course of your marriage will be subject to equitable division.
Options for Dividing Retirement Funds in a Divorce
While funds usually need to be divided in a manner that is equitable, equitable division does not necessarily mean equal division. As such, a 50/50 split of your retirement funds is not an inevitability. A few options for equitably dividing retirement funds in a divorce include:
- The alternate payee receives a lump-sum payment of their share of the account at the time of divorce
- Once the plan starts paying out benefits in the future, the alternate payee receives a share of benefits
- The participant on the account (the spouse with the retirement plan) will keep the plan in full, and the other spouse will get another asset of equal value in exchange (such as the marital home)
What Is a Domestic Relations Order?
A DRO, sometimes called a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO), is a legal document that recognizes that a spouse is entitled to receive some portion of the participant’s/account holder’s retirement accounts. A DRO is necessary because the administrator of the retirement account cannot split the funds in the retirement account or otherwise distribute them without the order; a division of property settlement agreement is not enough.
Get Help Dividing Retirement Funds in Your Divorce
If you are pursuing a divorce in Massachusetts, it’s important that you understand the laws related to division of property and how these laws may impact your retirement and pension funds. By working with a qualified divorce attorney in MA, you improve your chances of a favorable divorce outcome that protects your interests.
At the Law Office of Heather M. Ward, our skilled MA divorce attorney has experience representing clients in divorce cases involving notable assets, including valuable retirement accounts. To learn more about your rights and get the representation you deserve, call (617) 903-8955 or send our law firm a message online telling us more about your case.