Simplifying the Division of Retirement Plans for Divorcing Couples
Going through divorce proceedings is a difficult time in anyone’s life. Unfortunately, few people realize just how challenging this process can be. Many are surprised to learn that their property — even assets solely in their names — may be eligible for property division during a divorce. Even more surprising is the fact that this can include retirement accounts and benefits. This is done via a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) in Utah. Unfortunately, this is rarely a simple process — but an experienced QDRO attorney in South Jordan may be able to help.
At RCG Law Group, our family law firm has helped many divorcing couples handle the most complicated aspects of their divorce. For some people, this might only include deciding who gets the house versus the vacation home. However, things can get far more complex when retirement funds have built up over the course of a marriage. If you have a retirement benefit earned during this time, the QDRO process is one you’ll likely become acquainted with. Due to the complexity, Utah courts recommend having an attorney handle these issues.
At RCG Law Group, our South Jordan QDRO lawyers are ready to assist.
What Happens to Retirement Accounts After a Divorce?
When a couple decides to get a divorce, retirement assets are treated like any other property. Even if you worked with a plan administrator for years prior to your marriage, any funds added to the account after marriage are considered marital property. Because of this, these contributions are subject to Utah’s property division laws. However, the division of retirement assets can be more complicated since a retirement plan participant could have contributed both before and during their marriage. In such cases, a court will decide the value of the marital property.
Fortunately, this can be made easy by comparing the value of retirement accounts before marriage and at the time of divorce. The difference may be considered part of the marital estate. However, keep in mind that Utah is an equitable division state. This means that assets and debts will not necessarily be divided equally. Additionally, the courts may grant one spouse more benefits while giving the other spouse an equitable amount of different property (e.g., real estate, bank accounts, etc.). Unfortunately, Utah law has a way of complicating things.
However, you may be able to simplify matters by reaching a marital settlement agreement with your former partner. A mediator may also be able to assist in reaching a fair resolution, but in some cases, a divorce attorney will be important for navigating the process. Regardless of how your divorce proceedings unfold, working with a QDRO attorney in South Jordan can make the separation of any retirement account a more straightforward process that meets state and federal law requirements.
Why Is Your Spouse Entitled to Your Retirement Benefits?
At this point, you may be asking why the QDRO process is even necessary in your divorce. Perhaps the judge has already ordered the financial support of one spouse, or maybe the divorce decree includes information on the division of real estate and other assets you purchased together. However, the law doesn’t require that assets be in both of your names to be considered marital property. A marriage is considered a partnership, and all assets earned during that time are typically viewed as a result of collaborative effort.
Because of this, you and your ex-spouse may be entitled to a portion of each other’s retirement accounts. However, the QDRO process isn’t something that typically comes up prior to the divorce decree. That’s because Qualified Domestic Relations Orders only need to be requested and submitted to plan administrators when there’s a court order requiring assets from the account to be transferred to the other spouse, children, or other dependents. These assets can be used for alimony, child support, or even for equitable division of assets.
Put simply, preparing QDROs is a common and essential step in getting a divorce. Whether all parties involved have agreed to a settlement or one party refuses to follow a court order, you need a legal team with extensive experience on your side. That’s exactly what you’ll find at RCG Law Group. Our QDRO lawyers in South Jordan will work to ensure you get your fair share — whether you’re the plan participant or seeking assets from your spouse’s retirement account.
How Can You File Qualified Domestic Relations Orders in Utah?
The QDRO process can be complex. That’s why Utah courts recommend having an attorney handle the procedure. Getting things done right includes contacting your plan administrator, filling out the appropriate documents, having them go through preliminary approval, resolving any issues raised by plan administrators, and getting final approval. You can request the packet and start filling out information early, but keep in mind that you can’t submit documents to your plan administrator until the judge’s signature is on your divorce decree.
You’ll also need to worry about QDRO fees, ensuring documents are properly drafted, and submitting forms in a timely manner. Utah courts recommend allowing yourself 90 days to complete the QDRO filing process. After all, retirement assets are valuable — so it makes sense that authorities and a plan administrator would want to be thorough about everything. Fortunately, this can all be simplified with a QDRO expert on your side. An attorney can ensure all parties receive what the court order specifies, and they can handle everything in a timely manner.
Even if you believe you can undertake this process on your own, it doesn’t hurt to consult with an experienced team to ensure your QDRO meets all legal requirements. And if you’re working with an attorney prior to divorce court, you may be able to protect your contribution plans from typical asset division. Schedule an initial consultation with a South Jordan QDRO attorney at RCG Law Group today. We can guide you on everything from how to properly divide retirement accounts to the tax implications of receiving assets from your former spouse.
Contact a QDRO Attorney in South Jordan, UT Today
The divorce process is already complicated enough, but when a retirement account is thrown into the mix, a challenging process can seem nearly insurmountable. Fortunately, dividing retirement assets is a normal part of divorce. And thanks to Utah equitable division laws, there’s plenty of leeway when it comes to dividing these assets. In some instances, a South Jordan divorce lawyer may be able to help you avoid a QDRO altogether by reaching an equitable solution on property division.
At RCG Law Group, we understand that everyone’s circumstances are different. If you’ve paid into a retirement program, you likely feel that those funds should go to you. Unfortunately, the law doesn’t always see it this way. Any marital property is subject to division, and this includes your and your spouse’s retirement account. When a divorce is finalized, there is still work to do — particularly for those who need to divide retirement accounts.