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How Do I Protect My Retirement Benefits in a Divorce?

Divorce can be one of the most difficult, and ugliest, things that a person goes through. With emotions running high during this tumultuous process, it is not uncommon for things to get ugly, particularly if a couple begins fighting over financial issues and the division of assets.

One of the most common assets targeting by spouses during divorces are pensions and retirement plans. This is particularly true if one spouse does not work and will be left without savings after the divorce.

However, considering that you have spent much of your adult life working to build your retirement, you may be wondering what you can do to protect your retirement savings and/or pension if you are about to get married or are considering seeking a divorce. Here are a few of the steps that you can take to protect your retirement in the event of a divorce.

Get a Prenuptial Agreement

While it may be too late for this option if you are already married and are considering getting a divorce, if you are not yet married and are looking to protect your assets and your financial future, one of the best things that you can do to protect yourself is to get a prenuptial agreement before you get married. While many people do not consider prenuptial agreements as they do not want to imagine that their marriage will end, prenups are a great idea in almost any situation as they help to protect both parties in the event that the marriage is dissolved. Just make sure that you include in your prenuptial agreement plans for how your retirement assets will be split up in the event of a divorce.

Review the Laws in Your State

In order to protect your retirement as you begin the process of going through a divorce, it is important that you educate yourself on divorce processes in your state. How divorces are handled, and the way assets are divided in your divorce, will be guided by the laws and regulations where you live. However, it is important to note that while a pension can be divvied up between spouses during a divorce, this division isn’t usually automatic, and your spouse will likely have to request a share of your retirement before the divorce is finalized. Generally, the portion of your pension your spouse is entitled to will be dependent on how long you were married. However, knowing the laws in your state can help you to protect yourself as you begin the process of getting divorced.

Negotiate an Alternative

While it would be ideal to end a marriage quickly and easily, this is rarely the case, and negotiations are often drawn out and emotional. However, if you are able to have a calm discussion with your spouse regarding the division of assets, you may want to try to negotiate a plan that would allow you to maintain your pension and/or retirement savings plan. For instance, if you own your house you may be able to trade your portion of that asset in exchange for keeping all of your retirement savings. Furthermore, in cases where both spouses have a solid pension or retirement savings plan, the couple may agree to each keep their own pension in order to keep things simple. This is where it can be beneficial to talk to a divorce attorney, as they will be able to discuss your options with you for maintaining your assets as you go through your divorce.

Get Legal Representation

Of course, the most important thing that you can do to protect your assets as you go through the process of getting a divorce would be to consult an experienced divorce attorney. A divorce attorney will be able to look out for your best interests, and they can walk you through the complex divorce process while ensuring that you are not being taken advantage of by your spouse.

If you are beginning the process of going through a divorce, contact us to learn about how we can help you to protect your assets during this difficult process.