Dividing Retirement Accounts in a Divorce

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One of the most valuable assets that an individual may own is his or her retirement account. Whether it is a pension through an employer, a 401(k) or 403(b) retirement plan, or a self-funded IRA, retirement accounts are often a major asset that may be subject to division when a couple divorces. In some cases, a retirement account may be a non-marital asset, but depending on the circumstances, it also may be a marital asset.

Marital Asset or Non-Marital Asset?

Pursuant to South Carolina Code Ann. § 20-3-630, you first must determine whether a retirement account is a marital asset. This determination depends on when it was funded – prior to the marriage or during the marriage. A 401(k) plan that you contributed to through an employer that you had prior to your marriage and did not further contribute to after you married is likely a non-marital asset that is not subject to division in your divorce. On other hand, an IRA that you funded solely during your marriage is likely to be divisible in your divorce. Your spouse may be entitled to half of the value of your account, or even more than that in some situations. Sometimes, only part of a retirement account may be a marital asset, if the owner funded it both prior to and during the marriage. In that case, the only portion of the account that might be divided as a marital asset could be those contributions made during the marriage.

Valuing a Retirement Account

South Carolina Code Ann. § 20-3-640 governs the valuation of assets during divorce proceedings. In most divorce cases, the court will look at the value of the retirement account at the time that a spouse filed for divorce. In some circumstances, where the valuation of an account is complicated, or if part of the account may be a non-marital asset, then it may be necessary to enlist the services of a professional in order to place a proper value on the account. It is also important to know that the tax consequences of dividing a retirement account often affect its value for the purposes of a divorce.

Consult with an Experienced South Carolina Divorce Attorney

The attorneys at the Elliott Frazier Law Firm, LLC, have handled countless divorce cases that involve significant assets, including all types of pensions and retirement accounts, whether they are marital assets or non-marital assets. No matter how complex your divorce may be or how valuable your assets may be, we are prepared to represent your interests. By working together as a team, we can help you achieve your objectives with respect to property division in your divorce, and ensure that you receive all assets to which you are entitled. Likewise, we can assist with all other aspects of your divorce, including child custody, parenting plans, child support, and other divorce-related matters.

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