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Dividing retirement assets in divorce proceedings

On Behalf of | Jul 17, 2023 | Divorce |

Navigating divorce in Missouri can be overwhelming at any stage of life, but getting divorced during retirement can especially be complicated. Both spouses may already be collecting benefits from Social Security. They might also be drawing down their retirement savings or pensions. Here is a look at how retirement assets are divided during a divorce proceeding. 

Asset division during retirement 

Missouri is an equitable distribution state, which means all marital assets must be split equitably during a divorce. The assets may not necessarily be divided 50/50. Rather, a judge will determine the fairest way to split the assets based on factors like both parties’ incomes. This is the opposite of what happens in a community property state, where all assets legally have to be split 50/50. 

If two divorcing spouses have 401(k)s, they must file documents known as qualified domestic relations orders, or QDROs. These orders explain how their retirement funds should be split. For instance, a QDRO may pay out half of the portion of a 401(k) that grew during the two spouses’ marriage. No QDROs must be filed to divide individual retirement accounts or IRAs, but these accounts (at least the portion considered marital property) must still be divided equitably during the divorce proceeding. 

How an attorney can help 

Dividing assets fairly can be tricky, but a family law attorney in Missouri can help a divorcing individual pursue a just and comprehensive agreement with a soon-to-be ex-spouse. If the two parties cannot see eye to eye on property division, they have no choice but to go to trial, where a judge will determine how to split their assets for them. An attorney will be prepared to litigate this matter, ensuring his or her client’s rights and best interests are protected during each stage of the divorce proceeding. 

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