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How Retirement Benefits Are Divided in a Divorce

Divorces can be a messy business. They often involve the worst in a person as strong emotions, anger, and bitterness often plays a part. Some divorces can be an amicable split, but for most others, you should consider hiring a family law attorney Scottsdale AZ to help work through the nasty and often unforgiving process.


Divorces aren’t just messy because emotions are involved. There are a lot of other laws and challenges that are present. For most of their marriage, the couple has shared interests. They both signed the lease on their house, bought a car together, and even saved for retirement on a joint account. So, during a divorce, who gets what? Are the retirement benefits split equally? Does one person make a lot more than the other? Who contributed more?


All of these questions may have different answers. That’s why you need to be prepared to make smart, informed decisions while working through your divorce. Making rash, harsh decisions can impact you negatively during a divorce hearing. You need to know what your rights are and to get done with the process as soon as possible.

Retirement Savings 

Any amount of money you saved for retirement can be one of the largest investments you’ve made. It can also be one of the most valuable assets you hold. That’s why retirement savings can be one of the biggest fights a couple has while in the middle of a divorce. It’s not just who gets what, but tax issues as well.


Legally, if your spouse has an employer-sponsored 401(k) or other type of pension, you have rights. You’re entitled to part of your spouse’s savings. The only reason why you wouldn’t is if a prenuptial agreement was signed before the marriage became official stating otherwise. In the same vein, your spouse is also able to legally claim a part of your retirement savings.


It doesn’t matter who the main primary account holder is. So, if your spouse holds all the cards, how do you protect what is legally yours? This is where having an attorney is beneficial. They will help you understand the process. You can file a Qualified Domestic Relations Order. Let’s take a look at how that works. 


What’s a Qualified Domestic Relations Order?

 A Qualified Domestic Relations Order, or QDRO for short, exists to help protect spouses. In a divorce, your spouse may try to prevent you from getting what’s yours legally. So, a judge would rule in your favor via a court order. This often relates to alimony payments, child support, and property rights you might have. The QDRO can even instruct how your spouse’s pension must be paid out.


The QDRO is a protective measure and allows money to be pulled from a retirement savings account without any penalty. If you’re unsure of how the process works, then contacting a family law attorney will be beneficial. They understand the laws and how they will all apply to you. To learn more about your divorce rights and QDRO, click here:



Tiffany Fina Law Firm

7411 E 6th Suite 103

Scottsdale, AZ 85251



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