How to Protect Your 401(k) in a Divorce


If you’ve worked hard your whole life to build up a substantial savings for retirement, a divorce can be devastating. Nevada’s community property laws state that all property acquired by both spouses during the marriage is subject to equal division, and that means you could stand to lose up to half of your retirement savings. This is a particularly worrying trend for those who are getting a divorce later in life—a trend which has exploded in recent years and is the fastest growing demographic for divorces. If you’re approaching retirement and have a substantial amount of savings, losing half of all you’ve worked for can set you back years or even decades, perhaps making it so you can’t retire at all.

So what can you do to protect your savings and keep your retirement plan on track? Here are a few suggestions from our Henderson divorce attorneys.

Keep Detailed Records

For many people, the path to retirement savings actually began before they were married. It’s not uncommon for one or both spouses to bring their 401(k) earnings into the marriage, which would mean these pre-marital contributions are separately held property. Having these detailed records can show just how much you brought in to the marriage, which means you won’t have to worry about at least that portion of it being subject to the division process. While it might not be much, every amount you can save in this manner is less you have to worry about later.

Premarital Agreements

Premarital agreements, or “prenups” are becoming extremely popular, particularly for those in second or subsequent marriages starting later in life. Often times people who choose to marry in the later stages in life have more to their name as well as make a lot more per year, which means a lot more to lose in the event that everything is equally divided. People in this situation often choose to sign premarital agreements in order to protect what they have and what they earn in the event the marriage ends later. Premarital agreements of this variety are often written in a way that protect ownership of 401(k) accounts, particularly if only one spouse is contributing to them.

Negotiate a Settlement

If you can’t exclude all or most of your 401(k) from your property division process, you may be able to negotiate with your spouse and come to an agreement that allows you to keep your 401(k) account. You’ll probably have to give up assets of equal value in other places, which means that you’ll have to ask yourself the difficult questions of what’s more important to you. But for many people this is the ideal way to go because you wind up creating a property division plan that’s better for you and your goals.

Retain an Attorney

When going through a divorce, having a Henderson divorce attorney on your side can make a huge difference when it comes to the final outcome of your case. An attorney knows your rights and can protect them, which makes sure you receive not only a fair and equitable final agreement, but one that meets your goals and helps you keep that which is most important to you.

Call Ford & Friedman today at (702) 904-9898 to schedule a consultation and discuss your property division matters with our team.
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