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Who Gets Retirement Accounts After a Divorce?

Who Gets Retirement Accounts After a Divorce

Whenever couples get divorced, they go through the process of dividing their marital assets. These assets include any retirement accounts that were created during the time the couple was married. In some cases, retirement accounts could potentially be among the most valuable components of the overall estate, which means they can become a focus of divorce disputes.

Retirement accounts could include any of the following:

  • Savings accounts that were established during the course of the marriage
  • Pension benefits that were earned during a marriage
  • Other retirement assets like IRAs, 401(k)s, thrift savings plans, stock options, annuities and other benefit and contribution plans.

However, not all retirement accounts are automatically counted as being marital property. Any accounts acquired before the marriage or received by gift or inheritance do not count as marital property, nor do accounts excluded by prenuptial agreements or payments made toward 401(k)s before the marriage began.

In determining who gets what accounts or benefits after a divorce, whether the account was marital property or not is the largest factor. In most cases, the benefits will be subject to an “equitable split” between the two depending on the same kinds of factors that are used to determine any kind of marital property division, including income and overall need. But those accounts and benefits that were not marital property will stay solely in possession of the owner, the person who initially opened those accounts.

Handling Custody When the Parents Aren’t Married

Negotiating child custody arrangements between parents can be one of the most contentious areas after a divorce. Likewise, unmarried parents often have to confront the same set of complicated issues about the care and welfare of their children when they separate, including determining living arrangements, obtaining child support and setting up a visitation schedule.

Special considerations

Because unmarried legal parents of a child — whether they are biological or adoptive — do not divorce when they split up, they are sometimes able to create their own plans regarding the care of the child without the involvement of the courts. For many, this can work well as long they remain flexible and sustain open communication.

One essential element is to ensure that both parents can be present in their children’s lives and that they both remain responsible for their upbringing, including sharing the financial burden. Alternatively, in many states, separating couples propose their own arrangements to a judge who either approves them or requires modifications in terms of sharing custody and providing support.

The benefits of legal assistance

Although arrangements may often be made without the intervention of a family court, this does not hold true if the physical or financial needs of the child are in jeopardy — or if a once-amicable agreement has deteriorated. In this case, involved parties will often need to consult a lawyer to resolve key shared parenting issues, and if they are unable to create a satisfactory agreement, they may have to attend mediation sessions. Courts may also order subsequent modifications or additional support, and are never bound by agreements they deem inadequate.

Free Consultation with Divorce Lawyer in Utah

If you have a question about divorce law or if you need to start or defend against a divorce case in Utah call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We will fight for you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Ascent Law LLC

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Michael Anderson

About the Author

People who want a lot of Bull go to a Butcher. People who want results navigating a complex legal field go to a Lawyer that they can trust. That’s where I come in. I am Michael Anderson, an Attorney in the Salt Lake area focusing on the needs of the Average Joe wanting a better life for him and his family. I’m the Lawyer you can trust. I grew up in Utah and love it here. I am a Father to three, a Husband to one, and an Entrepreneur. I understand the feelings of joy each of those roles bring, and I understand the feeling of disappointment, fear, and regret when things go wrong. I attended the University of Utah where I received a B.A. degree in 2010 and a J.D. in 2014. I have focused my practice in Wills, Trusts, Real Estate, and Business Law. I love the thrill of helping clients secure their future, leaving a real legacy to their children. Unfortunately when problems arise with families. I also practice Family Law, with a focus on keeping relationships between the soon to be Ex’s civil for the benefit of their children and allowing both to walk away quickly with their heads held high. Before you worry too much about losing everything that you have worked for, before you permit yourself to be bullied by your soon to be ex, before you shed one more tear in silence, call me. I’m the Lawyer you can trust.