How Do I Protect My Retirement Savings in a Divorce?


If you are entering into a divorce but have been diligently saving for retirement, you may be justifiably concerned about holding onto your assets. This concern often becomes even more complex in high net worth divorce cases, in which there may be more on the line in one spouse’s 401(k). If you have significant savings in your 401(k) which you are concerned about losing in a divorce, keep reading our blog, and hire the high asset divorce attorneys at Ford & Friedman for representation.

Ways to Protect Retirement Savings in a Divorce

  1. Come Up with an Agreement Ahead of Time: Although this does not apply to couples who are about to enter a divorce, it is smart to make agreements regarding financial matters in a prenuptial agreement. While you may or may not be able to make negotiations as they relate to your 401(k), it is a good idea to hire a skilled attorney to help you devise a plan in case of a divorce, especially if you have a high income.
  2. Discuss Your Retirement Plan with Your Employer: Because tax laws vary so much depending on where you live and how much money you make, the rules and regulations of your retirement plan may help you determine how much you can lose in a divorce and still be financially stable. Talk to your employer about your specific retirement plan, and consider hiring a lawyer to analyze the plan with you.
  3. Take Advantage of the Qualified Domestic Relations Order: A qualified domestic relations order, or QDRO, is a document issued by the court detailing the specifics of how your 401(k) will be split. Your attorney will draft this document before sending it to the court, and while you may not be able to escape dividing your 401(k), you may at least be able to take advantage of provisions in your QDRO to hold onto more of it. For instance, your QDRO will allow you to roll over your portion of retirement savings into a qualified penalty and tax-free plan. An experienced attorney will go over all this with you, and make sure you are prepared for when the time comes for the court to issue your QDRO.
  4. Invest in a Roth IRA: Individual Retirement Accounts, or IRAs, including Roth IRAs, are not subject to QDRO’s in a divorce. Instead, these accounts can be split tax-free under the “incident to divorce” provision in the tax code. This may allow you to hold on to more than you would be able to with just your 401(k).
  5. Know the Details of Your Pension Plan: Like 401(k) accounts, pensions are usually considered a part of community property, and therefore subject to division in a divorce. However, with the assistance of a seasoned lawyer, you may be able to negotiate to keep the portion of money you put into the pension before marriage as separate property.

At Ford & Friedman, We Know Retirement

At Ford & Friedman, our attorneys have years of experience dividing pensions, 401(k)s, and retirement benefits in divorce proceedings. We know that divorce is almost always emotionally trying, yet negotiations can be greatly expedited with the assistance of our skilled legal team. Our lawyers will work to secure a settlement between you and your spouse that positions both of you for a strong financial future. However, we will also fight to ensure you are able to hold onto all of the assets you are entitled to, including any retirement savings.

Hire attorneys that know how to advocate for your best interests. Call Ford & Friedman to schedule a consultation at (702) 904-9898, or fill out our contact form online to help us get started on your case.

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