The division of retirement accounts in Florida

When couples decide to part ways in a cooperative divorce, dividing retirement accounts can seem daunting.

In Florida, the law views these accounts as marital property if accumulated during the marriage. This means both parties have a right to a fair share. Understanding the basics can make the process smoother and more amicable.

Defining a retirement account

Retirement accounts include pensions, 401(k)s, IRAs and other savings plans designed for retirement. The key factor is that these accounts must have contributions made during the marriage to be divisible.

How Florida divides these accounts

Florida follows the principle of equitable distribution. This does not always mean a 50/50 split but rather what is fair considering the circumstances of each spouse. The length of the marriage, the economic situation of each spouse and contributions to the marriage (including homemaking and raising children) play a role in determining what is equitable.

Steps to dividing retirement accounts

There are a few factors in the process of dividing accounts.

Identify all retirement accounts. Both parties need to list all retirement accounts held individually or jointly. This step ensures transparency and fairness.

Determine the marital portion. Only the portion of the retirement accounts accumulated during the marriage is subject to division. Any contributions made before or after the marriage typically remain with the individual who earned them.

Agree on a division percentage. The couple must agree on how to split the marital portion of the accounts. This often requires negotiation and a willingness to compromise.

Additionally, for plans covered by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, such as 401(k)s and pensions, you will need a qualified domestic relations order. This legal document instructs the plan administrator on how to pay the non-employee spouse their share of the account.

Making the process smoother

A cooperative approach to dividing retirement accounts involves open communication and a willingness to find fair solutions. Understanding each other’s future financial needs can help reach agreements that support both parties’ retirement goals.

Couples can navigate the division of retirement accounts in a way that is fair and respectful to both parties. This approach not only honors the time spent together but also lays a foundation for a positive post-divorce relationship.

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