If you are going through a divorce, one of the many considerations you will have during the process is how your marital property will be divided. This can include real estate, household furniture, cash from bank accounts, et cetera. During the asset division stage of a divorce, it is also important to consider how retirement and pension plans should be split between you and your spouse. The savings and benefits from these types of plans often qualify as marital property. However, without specific legal documentation in place, plan administrators may not legally be allowed to distribute funds accordingly.
As a skilled property division attorney can explain, ensuring that this type of property is divided appropriately will generally require a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, or QDRO for short. Retaining a Suwanee Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) lawyer with experience creating and enforcing these documents could be vital to protecting your rights during the dissolution of your marriage.
In Georgia divorces, all marital property is subject to equitable division, which does not necessarily entail a 50/50 split. Instead, family courts divide assets between divorcing parties based on each individual’s contributions to the marriage and other circumstances that may be relevant. Further, Georgia courts have established that retirement funds accumulated while marriage is ongoing—including dividends and interest as applicable—constitute divisible marital property.
Without a court order stating otherwise, however, administrators of retirement plans have a duty solely to plan holders and not to their current or former spouses. This means they would distribute plan benefits only to the plan holder even if those benefits were considered divisible marital property. The purpose of a Qualified Domestic Relations Order is to formally establish plan benefits as divisible property and ensure that administrators split payouts equitably in accordance with a divorce order.
Ensuring an equitable split of retirement funds in the future through a QDRO is generally preferable to cashing out any portion of the fund during a divorce. This is because the latter approach almost always comes with substantial taxes and potential financial penalties. A Suwanee Qualified Domestic Relations Order attorney can explain how these orders work and when they might be appropriate.
To be enforceable, a QDRO must provide exhaustive information regarding identifying details for each divisible account. This might include the name of the person who should receive funds from the account, what percentage of funds each party should receive, and when distribution should begin.
Depending on the circumstances, a recipient spouse may set up their QDRO so that funds from their former partner’s retirement account are rolled into their retirement savings. Alternatively, they could be paid out at a time when associated penalties and taxes for withdrawal would be minimized. As a proficient lawyer in Suwanee can affirm, QDROs are generally established after a divorce is finalized. This makes it crucial to determine what a fair division of assets would look like before starting to draft this highly complex legal document.
Achieving a fair division of marital assets can be challenging under any circumstances. This is especially true if those divisible assets include funds in retirement or pension plans. Fortunately, help is available in these situations from dedicated legal professionals with extensive knowledge of the Georgia family courts system.
A conversation with a Suwanee Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) lawyer can be vital to understanding your rights and options during this part of a divorce. Call our firm today to learn if we can put our skillset to your benefit.