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Dividing Retirement & Pension Accounts In Florida Divorce


With the large number of retirees in the Sunshine state, it makes sense that Florida sees more older couples divorcing than other states.  And unlike their younger counterparts, people who are divorcing in their silver years are more concerned with the financial impacts of having to share their retirement accounts and pensions than they are about child custody and visitation. That being said, understanding the rules related to these accounts is paramount going forward.

Florida Statute 

Florida law (Section 61.075) clearly states that all marital property is to be equitably distributed between the parties. While that doesn’t necessarily mean everything goes halfsies, it does mean that anything acquired during the course of the marriage—including annuities, 401(k)’s, Roths, IRA’s, retirement benefits and pension plans are all subject to consideration in the division of marital assets.

Qualified Domestic Relations Order 

With regard to pension and retirement accounts, a judge generally issues a court order called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) specifying that a portion of a person’s retirement benefits must be made available to their former spouse. The individual receiving those monies will face major tax implications if they are paid out prior to reaching full retirement age, but it is still possible to get the money in a lump sum prior to retirement age.  On the other hand, one could get a lump sum after hitting retirement age or could take scheduled payments later in life with no penalties at all.  Another option would be to roll over the money into one’s own retirement account and wait to withdraw until reaching retirement age.

Defined Contribution Plans 

For those who enjoy a defined contribution retirement plan, the ex-spouse is generally entitled to 50 percent of the amount accrued at the time of the divorce.  If the person owning the account continues to work and build the account, the additional revenue will belong solely to them. 

Government Pensions 

There are completely different rules when it comes to government pensions.  They are not required to accept QDROs, although state governments generally do so voluntarily. These, as well as military benefits, have their own guidelines for division, and some of the rules favor the military service member.  For instance, federal law requires a marriage to have lasted for 10+ years in order for a former spouse to collect from a retired service member.

It Can be Tricky 

Divorce has a lot of directions it can take, and maneuvering through the complicated rules associated with retirement and pension accounts can seem like a nightmare.  That’s why having an experienced, tenacious divorce attorney working on your case is essential to getting the best possible outcomes.  If you are concerned about these issues, schedule a confidential consultation with the knowledgeable Boca Raton divorce attorneys at WiseLieberman today.


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