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Personal and Professional Legal Services in the Heart of Vermont

How can I protect my retirement savings during my divorce?

On Behalf of | Jan 9, 2024 | Property Division |

Financial issues can worsen your divorce’s emotional turbulence. You probably worry about your retirement savings and how to protect your share after years of building it. On the other hand, if you are a nonworking spouse with low to nonexistent contributions, receiving your portion of the retirement funds is even more critical to help stabilize your future.

Unless you and your ex-spouse agree on how to divide retirement assets earned or acquired during marriage, Vermont courts can decide on an equitable split. They consider relevant factors to determine what is fair, which is not necessarily 50/50.

With so much at stake, it is crucial to take proactive steps in safeguarding retirement properties that are rightfully yours.

Ways you can secure your retirement savings

Whether you have an individual retirement account or defined contribution plans, such as traditional pension plans or 401(k)s, the following are potential tips that may apply to your situation:

  • Look out for survivorship: Check if your ex has listed you as a survivor in case they die before you or their retirement to ensure you receive their plan’s benefits.
  • Seek professional assistance: Your financial advisor can assess your economic standing, determine possible tax implications, make proper recommendations and work with you to develop a plan that can move your financial goals forward.

You may also benefit from having a legal team to stay on top of timely and accurate paperwork. For example, drafting and understanding a qualified domestic relations order tend to be complex. Your legal support can walk you through this court document, which outlines a spouse’s rights to retirement money, and help ensure you follow state procedures and requirements.

It pays to be strategic

When retirement savings are on the line, you would want to exhaust all available options to keep what you worked hard for or assert your rights. In some cases, you and your ex may both have savings that are similar in size. You may choose to save your time and money by keeping what you already have and go your separate ways. However, this is not always the case because conflicts often occur. So, it pays to look for sound financial and legal advice before finalizing terms or signing anything.