Anaheim Retirement Asset Division Attorney

Anaheim Retirement Asset Division Attorney

Anaheim Retirement Asset Division Lawyer

Divorce is a significant undertaking that affects every area of your life as you navigate the difficult process. Even in an amicable divorce, fully separating your personal effects and finances from your spouse requires time and consideration.

Although property division and child custody are well-known aspects of divorce, retirement asset division is an important part of finalizing the process. Ensuring your retirement funds are protected should not be left to chance when you separate from your spouse. Many spouses in Anaheim, CA create their retirement plans together, so separating these funds can be difficult.

Losing out on the retirement funds that you have built up can have disastrous effects on your long-term life plan, potentially forcing you to work for many more years than you originally intended. Speaking with an experienced retirement asset division attorney can ensure that you head into your divorce with the knowledge, experience, and support to keep all the retirement funds that you are entitled to. Moranda Law Firm, APC, can help you navigate all aspects of your divorce, including retirement asset division.

Anaheim Retirement Asset Division Attorney

California Retirement Asset Division Laws

During a divorce, there are two types of property: community and separate. Different states have different laws for how these property types are defined, but in California, they are defined as follows:

  • Community Property: All property that was obtained during the marriage is considered community property and subject to division during a divorce. This includes salary, real estate, and vehicles.
  • Separate Property: Property that was obtained prior to, or outside of, the marriage is considered separate. Examples of separate property can include gifts to a single spouse from a friend or an inheritance.

In most instances, retirement accounts are considered community property that must be divided during a divorce. Because the accounts were contributed to during the marriage, California considers these funds to belong to both spouses. This protects both spouses in the event of an income disparity or if one spouse stays home to take care of the home and/or children.

The court may issue special orders to ensure these benefits are divided equally. Some retirement accounts require a special order, called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO), to be given to the retirement plan administrator for the funds to be split.

Retirement plans that must be split with the assistance of a QDRO in a marital property asset split include:

  • 401(k) plans
  • 457 plans
  • 403(k) plans
  • Tax-sheltered annuities
  • Employee stock ownership plans
  • Business-defined benefit/pension plans
  • Money purchase plans
  • Restricted stock options
  • Thrifty savings plans

QDROs are not required to divide the following retirement plans:

  • Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA)
  • Deferred annuities
  • Government retirement plans

Dividing a Retirement Plan

There are generally two potential routes for dividing retirement plans during a divorce:

  • Allocating the Complete Value of the Retirement Plan to a Single Spouse
    When the participant spouse retains the entirety of a retirement plan, the other spouse will be given an equivalent amount in other marital assets. If both spouses were paying into their own individual retirement accounts, this may be an easier resolution than dividing both retirement accounts between the spouses.
  • Both Spouses Receive a Portion Once the Benefits Begin at Retirement
    The non-participant spouse will be allocated a portion of the retirement benefits once the funds begin paying out. This method of division will generally require the QRDO mentioned above, as retirement accounts cannot disburse funds to anyone other than the participant without this court order.

In an amicable divorce, the spouses may be able to create a mutually beneficial plan for their retirement accounts as well as other community property and assets in the marriage. If the couple is unable to create a plan for their marital assets, including retirement accounts, the judge will draft a property division plan.

Retirement Assets FAQs

Q: Will a Stay-at-Home Spouse Qualify for a Retirement Plan in the Other Spouse’s Name?

A: There are many circumstances where the lower-earning spouse will qualify for a portion of the retirement account. Both spouses contributed to the marriage, one by earning an income and one by maintaining the home, so California law states that both spouses are entitled to at least a portion of any retirement plans.

Q: How Is the Value of a Retirement Plan Determined?

A: For contribution plans like a 401(k) or IRA, the value is determined by the current statement. More complex retirement plans, such as a corporate plan or pension plan, may require the skills of an actuary to determine their value. Both spouses are given the opportunity to have the plan evaluated. If the values are different, both actuaries must appear in court, and the judge will make the final determination of value and division.

Q: What Is a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QRDO)?

A: A QRDO is a domestic relations order that recognizes or creates the existence of another person’s right to receive all or some of the benefits that are payable to the retirement plan owner. Without this document, many retirement plan administrators are unable to identify the other spouse as having an interest in the plan and cannot make any distributions to the other party.

Q: Do I Need an Attorney to Divide Retirement Plans in a Divorce?

A: Separating retirement plans can be difficult, especially if the spouse’s retirement accounts are not equitable. There may be unique laws for the retirement plans that you and your spouse share. An attorney can help you evaluate your accounts and determine any applicable laws, protecting your retirement benefits and ensuring your financial future.

Anaheim Retirement Asset Division Lawyers

Equally separating every asset, property, and debt acquired during your marriage can be a difficult process, especially as you navigate the hard emotions that come with the end of your marriage. Working with an experienced divorce attorney can help ensure you are financially protected after your divorce, especially if each spouse does not have their own retirement account.

Whether you are anticipating a contentious situation or a more amicable resolution, Moranda Law Firm, APC, can help. Our firm is tenacious in protecting our Orange County clients by ensuring they leave their divorce with everything to which they are entitled. For a consultation with our skilled staff on your divorce and retirement account division, reach out to our office today.

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Child Custody
& Visitation
Fathers’ Rights
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