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Home > Areas of Practice > Family Law > Divorce > Equitable Distribution > Retirement and Pension Division

St. Petersburg Retirement and Pension Division Lawyers

All divorce cases in St. Petersburg, and throughout Florida, require the equitable distribution of marital assets. Generally speaking, marital assets include any assets you and your spouse acquired together during the marriage. Even if an asset is in the name of one spouse only, it is still considered marital property if it was acquired during the marriage.

More and more frequently, retirement accounts and pensions are becoming some of the most valuable assets a couple owns. Whether those funds are held in a 401(k) or 403(b) plan, an IRA, or a profit-sharing arrangement with an employer, each spouse likely has a claim to at least a portion of retirement accounts and pensions. Our St. Petersburg retirement and pension division lawyers can help with this complex aspect of equitable distribution.

Unique Issues when Dividing Retirement Accounts and Pensions

Property division will always present certain challenges, but there are unique issues associated with dividing retirement accounts and pensions. These are as follows:

  • The respective interests of spouses in a retirement account cannot always be liquidated because the holder of the account is not eligible to receive any benefits until a future date. Entitlement to retirement funds is dictated by federal law and the terms of a specific fund. A divorce decree does not take priority over either of these.

  • Depending on the provisions within a certain plan, the interests of the holder may be subject to a significant investment risk.

  • Entitlement to some benefits may be limited, or even terminated, if the plan participant passes away.

Obtaining a Qualified Domestic Relations Order

Typically, a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) is necessary for retirement funds to be distributed to a former spouse. A QDRO directs the fund administrator to segregate or distribute a certain percentage of the account to the party it was awarded to during divorce proceedings.

The portion of a pension or retirement fund a spouse is awarded during the divorce process can be determined in two ways. The divorcing partners can negotiate an agreement on their own, usually with the help of a St. Petersburg retirement and pension division lawyer. If spouses cannot agree on retirement division, the case is considered contested and a judge will make the decision after an evidentiary hearing. If litigation is necessary to determine how to divide a pension, each side will typically use expert witnesses who can testify as to the appropriate valuation.

Our Retirement and Pension Division Lawyers in St. Petersburg Can Assist with Your Case

As with any part of your divorce settlement agreement, it is important to take great care when negotiating the property division terms of your divorce and when drafting the appropriate documents. At Greene & Greene, our St. Petersburg retirement and pension division lawyers can help you through this complex issue and ensure you retain or receive the full amount of retirement benefits you are entitled to. Call us now at (727) 821-2900 or contact us online to schedule a consultation and to obtain the sound legal advice you need.

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