How Are Retirement Accounts Divided?
Retirement accounts are usually shared by both parties and is divisible by both spouses. Although these accounts should be split equitably, the judge takes into consideration a list of factors, which you can find in a worksheet on our website under “Who Gets What?” Our attorneys are familiar with the formulas used to divide requirement accounts and can help make sure you acquire what you are owed.
Chances are if you’ve been married for a while, you and your spouse may have retirement accounts. The question is, how are retirement accounts divided in divorce? I want to make sure you understand something. When you’re referring to it as “my retirement account” or “his or her retirement account,” the reality is, they belong to both of you because all of it is thrown into the basket and all of it is divisible when you divide marital property. In Massachusetts, property division is done equitably. That doesn’t necessarily mean equally. You might want to assume 50/50 as a starting point, but judges apply a list of factors. You’ll see it on our website on a worksheet that’s called “Who Gets What?” and they apply these factors and then decide how to split the marital estate.
When it comes to retirement accounts, what you want to focus on at the time of divorce, the courts will sign off on a QDRO. That’s the Qualified Domestic Relations Order and that prevents the spouses from any tax ramifications so long as they don’t go and spend the money.
For pensions, you divide the number of months the pensioner was employed during the marriage and prior to filing by the total of credit earned toward the pension as of the date benefits begin, times a half, and that’s going to get you the alternate payee’s portion. It’s a little bit complicated, but that’s how we divide retirement accounts in Massachusetts.