How to Protect Your Retirement Assets in a Divorce

Date Posted:March 19, 2015 | Categories:

Retirement Assets in a Divorce

In any divorce, finances and property division can get ugly—especially if one person makes more than the other. It’s risky to assume your retirement assets are secure when you divorce, and you won’t realize how much you stand to lose until it’s too late. Central Ohio divorce lawyers can advise you on what to do when it comes to protecting your retirement assets. However, there are steps you can take to help secure your retirement assets during a divorce.

Know Ohio’s Divorce Law Regarding Property

All states have different laws regarding property during a divorce. For Ohio divorce law, most property falls below “equitable distribution of property,” which means any funds received during the marriage by either spouse are subject to equitable division. However, according to Ohio law, specific property not subject to division includes:

  • Any funds that were earned prior to the marriage by either spouse, and that spouse is entitled to keep it
  • Income generated by passive means
  • Any property attained after the divorce is finalized
  • Inheritance for either spouse

Other factors under Ohio law can impede a 50/50 division of property, but these factors are carefully considered by your attorney and the court. Your attorney will discuss which factors affect your assets in detail with you, which is why it’s crucial to keep current financial records of your property. These factors include:

  • Marriage length
  • Age and physical health of both spouses
  • Property or income purchased by each spouse
  • The standard cost of living for each spouse
  • Any agreements made between spouses during the marriage concerning property

It’s imperative to know which factors will affect you during the divorce. It’s also a good idea to restrict retirement accounts from receiving additional funds, and record all monetary deposits and withdrawals.  

Stop Contributing to Your 401(k) and IRA

Don’t expect your 401(k) or IRA to be completely protected from division. When the idea of “divorce” begins to float around in your home, stop making any monetary contributions to your IRA or 401(k). These retirement accounts would be divided between each spouse, especially if your husband or wife made any contributions.

It’s also vital to ask your employer to stop making contributions to your retirement and savings accounts. Some individuals lose over half of their contributions after the divorce only because they continued investing money into their retirement and savings accounts.

Monitor and Record all Your Debts and Assets

Take an inventory of everything you own: your financial assets and debts. You need to record all your financially-owned assets, and to know where your money is at all times and where it goes. Keep copies of credit accounts and loans, and note any funds that were recently received or removed. Also, make notes of home equity, business debts, and tax returns. Anything you have purchased, invested or contributed should be accurately recorded prior to the divorce proceedings.

Hire a Divorce Attorney in Central Ohio

The most important step is to hire an attorney. Central Ohio divorce lawyers are skilled and knowledgeable in divorce law, and they will take the necessary steps to help you protect your retirement assets during divorce proceedings. Your lawyer will guide you through the process beginning with recording your accounts to finalizing the divorce and signing the papers.

Need an experienced divorce attorney to help you? Edward F. Whipps & Associates is a seasoned law firm with over 30 years of experience aggressively protecting our clients’ retirement accounts. Contact Edward F. Whipps & Associates by calling our Columbus office at (614) 461-6006, or our Dublin office at (614) 461-6007.