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Understanding how retirement savings are divided during divorce

Florida spouses who are preparing to divorce are usually concerned about how that process will impact their financial standing. In particular, individuals who have amassed considerable retirement savings worry that their nest egg will be lost during the divorce process. In preparing for negotiations, it is helpful to understand how retirement savings are handled during a Florida divorce.

In general, any retirement savings that are set aside during the course of a marriage are subject to division during divorce. Individuals who already have significant savings prior to getting married may be able to separate those funds out of the equation. Doing so, however, will require proof of how much was already set aside before the marriage took place.

In order to avoid tax consequences for early withdrawal, spouses must have a plan in place for how retirement assets will be handled after the division takes place. Usually, this is accomplished by using a QDRO (qualified domestic relations order) to roll retirement savings from one spouse's account to the other's. QDROs are used for 401(k)s, pensions, 403(b)s and other types of company retirement accounts.

For some Florida spouses, pursuing retirement savings will be a primary goal within the divorce process. For others, preserving their retirement and ceding other asset types may be a better course of action. No two spouses will have the exact same set of priorities. By working with a trusted divorce attorney, it is possible to discuss one's needs and goals and then run through all of the available options before deciding upon a negotiation strategy.

Source:, "How retirement plans get divided in a divorce", Jan. 20, 2016

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