Dividing Retirement Plans After Marriage: Essential Info

Divorce is one of the most difficult times in a person’s life. No matter if your children are already grown up or not, there are many aspects to look for after so many years spent together. If you’re ready to go on separate roads just when your retirement begins, who will get the retirement funds?

Which retirement plans can be divided?

One of the most important rules that applies to every U.S. states is that anything earned or acquired during marriage is marital property and therefore can be divided in a divorce. However, do note that this only applies to the years you were married.

For example, let’s say you and your partner contributed to a retirement plan starting 1993 and god married in 1997. The contributions you made between 1993-1997 is not subject to division during divorce because, legally speaking, it happened before you were married, so it depends to you and your former spouse to get along. Whatever you contributed on from 1997 until today is subject to debate in court.

Bottom line, certain retirement benefits cannot be divided simply because they are covered by federal law (not the state law). Some of them, for instance, are Social Security and railroad retirement advantages.


Are there tax effects if a retirement asset is divided?

Well, there’s no simple answer to that. Generally speaking, any distribution from a retirement fund implies a 10% tax penalty. However, you can avoid this is you offer your spouse a part of your IRA due to divorce – and that works even for those under 59 years old.

When it comes to accounts such as IRAs, 401ks and pensions, funds must be moved to a separate retirement account owned by your spouse. Another option is that if your spouse receives the entire account in exchange for you getting a marital asset of equal value, you can just change the name of the account.


All in all, there are many aspects to take into consideration when ending a long marriage. However, doing research and getting help from experienced consultants will help you get through this moment and build your life again.

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1 thought on “Dividing Retirement Plans After Marriage: Essential Info”

  1. I need help I’ve been married to my husband over 30 years we still legally married he married to women after me saying he thought I divorce him how can I get help finding if he’s receiving a retirement from a job while receiving social security please help

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