Dividing Retirement Assets with High Balances in a Divorce

Dividing Retirement Assets with High Balances in a Divorce

Pierre Domercq Community Property Division

Dividing retirement assets with high balances in a divorce requires experience, legal skill and specialized Qualified Domestic Relations Orders or QDROs.  Almost every divorce in Carlsbad or anywhere in North County San Diego involves a retirement account, 401k, IRA, pension or social security issue.  Retirement assets which are begun or contributed to during the course of the marriage are going to be considered some form of community property.  Community property is to be divided evenly between the parties in California.

The first question is:

“What portion of either former spouse’s retirement asset(s) is to be considered community property?”

This can be a complex and challenging legal issue to resolve.  For example, second marriages are quite common and each spouse may enter the new union with their own retirement accounts.  At the outset of the marriage, these assets are considered the “separate” property of each individual.

However, during the course of a subsequent 8 year marriage each continues to contribute to their 401(k), pension or retirement plan.  They may borrow against these vehicles to finance the purchase of a major asset such as the family home or pay college tuition.

In any case, the income of each party during the course of the marriage is considered to be community property.  Commingling assets such as separately held property and community property creates a complex legal and financial issue.  Continuing contributions and recent gains in the markets have increased the value of these accounts in a significant manner.

How much (if any) of the remaining retirement accounts are the separate property of each spouse and what portion is now community property in the new marriage?  Dividing retirement assets with high balances in a divorce requires forensic accounting and intricate legal skill.  The partners of Burke & Domercq each have decades of experience in North County divorce cases involving substantial retirement assets.  If you are concerned about dividing retirement assets with high balances in a divorce we invite you to contact our Certified Family Law Specialists or call 760-712-3741 to schedule an appointment today.