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What happens to your retirement plan in a high-asset divorce?

One of the most common concerns of Georgia couples undergoing divorce is what will happen to their retirement plans. In a high net worth divorce, it is important to determine whether your ex-partner can still seek to obtain part of your retirement plan even though you are no longer together. Oftentimes, the answer to this depends on the type of retirement plan and the arrangements that you made during the divorce process.

If your former spouse got a Qualified Domestic Relations Order during divorce, he or she has the right to a certain share of your retirement plan. The document shows the percentage of the ex-spouse’s share. The QDRO is necessary for corporate retirement accounts, such as 401(k) plans and 403(b) accounts. Your ex will also need a QDRO if your retirement asset is governed by the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act. Otherwise, your former spouse will not receive a share of your retirement assets.

On the other hand, those without a QDRO cannot automatically have all their assets for themselves. In fact, individual and government retirement plans and deferred compensation plans do not need a QDRO to be divided in divorce. However, they are subject to the provisions that you have agreed upon during divorce. In general, contributions made to the retirement plan during marriage by either spouse are considered marital property and must be divided equally. This is usually what the court follows if there is no agreement existing during the time of divorce.

The distribution of retirement plans in high-asset divorces in Georgia largely depends on your divorce arrangements. Therefore, it is important to consider every detail of your divorce.

Source:, “Biz Brain: Splitting a retirement plan after divorce,” Karin Price Mueller, Jan. 26, 2014

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