Any Virginia Divorce Lawyer will tell you that the first consultation with a potential client is a difficult task. Going through a divorce is a painstaking process, especially when the parties have significant marital assets and/or debts to distribute.
One of the most common headaches is figuring out how to divide retirement accounts. Most people are exceedingly frustrated to learn that they might have to fork over a portion of their retirement to their ex-spouse (the frustration boils if their spouse is the one seeking a divorce). We thought it would be appropriate to answer a few FAQs.
What portion of your retirement account does your spouse get under Virginia law?
As with most things, it depends. Only the “marital” portion of a retirement account is subject to division and distribution by a Judge. Generally speaking, the marital portion of your retirement account is the amount of your contributions from the date of your marriage to the date of your separation (appreciation/depreciation of that amount is typically considered as well). However, what your spouse actually gets really depends on the other circumstances of your case.
Are there ways to avoid giving your spouse a portion of your account?
In many cases, yes! There are several ways to potentially avoid splitting up a retirement account. A couple of common examples:
- Even if you have a retirement account with marital assets that is subject to distribution by the Court, so too might your spouse. His or her accounts might offset or exceed your own. If that is the case, you might not have to divide up the retirement account in your name.
- You may have other assets that could offset the retirement, or you might be able to assume marital debts to make up the difference.
What is a QDRO?
A QDRO (qualified domestic relations order) is a Court Order that divides up a retirement account. Once the order is signed by a Virginia Judge, it is usually forwarded to the company holding the retirement assets. Ordinarily, that company will review the QDRO and, once it is approved, they will divide the retirement funds into two accounts, one for each spouse. For more information, look at our QDRO Page.
Can the Court split up a Pension Plan?
Yes. The Court can also order the division of pension plans and military retirement accounts. Typically this is done with a QDRO, resulting in a portion of the account holder’s monthly payment being diverted to their ex-spouse.
If you are going through a divorce in Virginia and have retirement assets, it is important to speak with a experienced divorce attorney for specific advice. There are ways to protect your interests and the right divorce lawyer can help. At BoykoNapier, our attorneys have experienced dealing with complex marital retirement issues. Call us at (804) 658-3418, or contact us via email to discuss your case today. We handle cases throughout Central Virginia, including Richmond, Chesterfield, Henrico, Hanover and the surrounding localities.