The kids have moved out, you’re nearing the end of your career and potentially the end of your marriage. You and your spouse have worked many years saving for retirement. Now access to shared assets like your 401K could be affected by a pending divorce.
As the separation rate rises among couples age 50 or older, a trend referred to as ‘gray divorce,’ you are likely worried about how those retirement funds may be divided.
Women who are nearing retirement are more typically more vulnerable to adverse economic situations following a divorce. Florida law is written without gender in mind to encourage equity between the separating spouses.
Under Florida law, the court will consider many factors when determining what is equitable or fair. While the discussion may begin at 50/50, that’s not always the result.
Let’s say you spent your marriage supporting your husband’s career, and that now leaves you with little income on your own and less-than-optimal job prospects. Fair could mean that you get 60 percent of the value assets, while your husband gets 40 percent.
What do you need to know about retirement accounts?
Retirement assets including your 401K, stocks, and other long-term savings accounts are fair game in a divorce. In fact, most property acquired during the marriage, other than inheritance or gifts, are subject to division.
Here are three things you should know about dividing retirement accounts:
- “It was my job” doesn’t control who gets what. Just because his 401K was tied to his job does not mean that you aren’t entitled to a share of the value. The money put into the account during the marriage is considered marital property.
- “I won’t withdraw the funds until after the divorce” doesn’t matter. They are retirement assets and can still be used for that. Just because the funds are intended for an age that will occur after the divorce does not stop them from being a part of the divorce settlement.
- Some spouses hide assets. Yes, some spouses may use financial trickery in an attempt to hide or protect certain funds. Believe what your attorney tells you, not what your spouse says.
If you are worried about how the court will choose to divide your assets, a pre-trial agreement arranged by a legal professional can prevent the court system from distributing your assets in a manner with which you don’t agree.