401(k)s and Divorce | What You Need to Know

According to a 2016 American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers survey, the three most hotly-contested divorce-related issues regarding asset distribution are alimony, business interests, and retirement accounts & pensions. Most people going through the divorce process worry about property distribution, child custody, and more, however, other forms of asset distribution also play a critical role in the divorce process. Please continue reading and speak with our Los Angeles divorce attorneys to learn more about how 401(k)s are divided in the divorce process and how our firm can help you preserve what is yours. Here are some of the questions you may have:

What happens with my 401(k) in a divorce?

The first thing that you should understand is that in most cases, you are entitled to a portion of your former spouse’s 401(k) plan in a divorce. That being said, to obtain a portion of this plan, you and your attorney will have to file a qualified domestic relation order. In fact, regardless of whether your spouse has a 401(k) plan or a traditional pension plan, you will have to file this order. You should also understand that though these forms are based on the contents of your divorce agreement, they are separate from these agreements, which is why you must retain the services of an attorney who has significant experience dealing with 401(k)s in the divorce process. Your attorney will then speak with the administrator of your former spouse’s plan to ensure that your share of this plan is transferred over to your possession.

From here, you and your attorney must review the document to ensure that your divorce agreement is accurately represented in your qualified domestic relation order. In certain cases where more than one retirement account will be divided in the divorce process, you will have to file a separate order.

What else should I know about 401(k)s and divorce?

401(k)s are complicated, which is why you and your attorney must understand the various nuances associated with them. For example, it is critical that you do not change the beneficiary of the plan before your divorce is finalized. If you do change beneficiaries before your divorce is finalized and your spouse passes away, there is a very good chance that you will no longer be entitled to your portion of his or her 401(k). If you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to speak with our knowledgeable California divorce attorney today.

Contact our experienced Los Angeles firm

Divorce and family law issues are notoriously complicated and personal, which is why you must hire an attorney with years of experience, as well as the compassion and skill needed to handle these sensitive matters. For the qualified, dedicated legal representation you and your family deserve and need, contact Zitser Family Law Group, APC today.

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