Retirement is one of the biggest assets to consider during a divorce settlement. Although pension plans are becoming a thing of the past, many couples are still making it a priority to save for retirement and are regularly contributing towards a retirement plan. Some common examples include: 401(k), 403(b), profit-sharing plan, savings plan, thrift plan, ESOP, SIP, IRA, etc.
Oftentimes, couples will hire an attorney or use the self-help center at the courthouse only to find that one very important piece of the divorce is still pending -- the Domestic Relations Order or Qualified Domestic Relations Order (depending on if it is government or not).
Each retirement account is governed by different rules and some accounts can be divided with the final divorce Judgment, while others require an additional order. Yes, that means additional paperwork. Importantly, the cooperation of both spouses is needed to complete this process. And sadly, many people wait until retirement to process the additional orders.
As an LDA, I have assisted many clients with their last minute efforts to rush one of these orders through court, sometimes 20 years have passed and the participant has already drawn funds from the community property share. I have learned from experience that it is extremely important to process these orders at the time of divorce. Some orders can actually be incorporated into the final judgment itself.
If you are seeking assistance with the preparation and processing of your retirement division, give me a call at 916-660-2041.