When spouses divorce, the marital home and retirement savings are usually the most significant assets. The parties need to know how retirement is split in a divorce in Missouri. Not understanding your rights or the legal process can lead to stress and uncertainty about the process and likely result. Our family law attorneys explain how retirement is split in divorce in Missouri.
Do you have a right to your spouse’s retirement in Missouri?
In general, you have a right to the portion of your spouse’s retirement that is earned or accumulated during the marriage. That includes investment accounts like a 401(k) and defined-benefit plans like a pension. However, work credits attributed to a spouse through the Missouri Public School Retirement System are not divisible because they are in lieu of social security benefit credits.
(See Missouri Law § 169.572, which states that a court may not divide federal old-age benefits in a divorce proceeding.)
Property acquired by either spouse during the marriage is presumed to be marital property. (Missouri law 452.330(3).) It does not matter if the funds are in one person’s name – if either spouse acquires the funds during the marriage, they are often subject to division. Gifts and inheritances are exceptions to the general rule.
With most retirement savings and entitlements subject to divorce in Missouri, spouses need to know how retirement assets are split.
How is retirement split in divorce in Missouri?
Retirement assets are split equitably in divorce in Missouri. The court may decide what is fair and just – which may or may not be exactly equal.
In addition to deciding what percent of the assets each spouse gets, the court decides which types of assets each spouse receives. For example, the one who gets the marital home may get a smaller share of retirement assets. It is up to each party to submit evidence and arguments to the court about how assets should be split.
Questions to ask yourself about splitting retirement income in a Missouri divorce
If you have retirement income in a Missouri divorce, ask yourself the following questions:
- Was the entire asset earned during the marriage? If not, which portion is marital?
- What is the type of asset? Is it a 401(k), a defined benefit plan, or something else?
- If it is a defined benefit plan, is it a Public School and Education Employee Retirement Systems of Missouri (PSRS/PEERS) plan, a Missouri State Employees’ Retirement System plan, or Local Government Employees Retirement System (LAGERS)? If so, special rules apply.
- What document do I need to complete the division? A QDRO or a different kind of division order?
- How do the various details of division impact the ultimate payments to each party? What do I need to do to make sure that the judgment of divorce is correct and complete? (survivorship, cost of living adjustments, etc.)
- How does the division of retirement assets play into the bigger picture of the divorce and equitable distribution of all assets?
- What evidence do I need to make my case for equitable division of assets including retirement?
Paperwork for retirement account division in divorce
When dividing retirement assets, the paperwork must be correct – There are multiple types of retirement accounts. Different accounts and plans may have different requirements for each.
For most 401(k) accounts, you can use a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO, pronounced QUAD-row). For a defined benefit (pension) you need the appropriate pension division order. For example, for the Missouri State Employees’ Retirement System, you need a Division of Benefits Order (DBO). Members of the military may need a Military Retired Pay Division Order.
Details in a divorce judgment for retirement account distribution
Defined benefit plans have certain requirements to complete the division. What is in a division order matters – it is not enough just to say that a spouse gets “half of the pension.” The court order needs to address several points, like how the marital portion is calculated, whether the spouse qualifies for cost of living increases, survivor benefits and any other potential issues. Your attorney needs to address these questions during your divorce proceeding, to ensure that the division of assets is complete, and to ensure that the final division order puts the judgment of divorce into effect.
Attorneys for Retirement Account Distribution in Divorce
Are you facing a divorce with retirement assets? Our family law attorneys at Aramjoo Law Firm can help you evaluate your case and address the little details that can make a big difference in getting the retirement assets that you deserve. Contact us today.