401K statementThis is the next post in my series on the division of property and debt during a Melbourne, Florida divorce. My last article discussed how alimony is impacted by marital property division. It is important to understand that leaving a marriage with more or less property can impact the extent to which a Judge may award spousal support. How the Court will rule in any given situation, however, will always depend on the specific facts of the case. It is always best to discuss your situation with an attorney. In this article I will discuss a topic which often causes anxiety for those who are ending a marriage – how their retirement assets will be divided. If you require assistance then contact my office today to speak with a lawyer.

Florida law treats retirement accounts and pensions similarly to other marital assets. Balances or future benefits that are earned during the marriage will typically be considered “marital” while anything earned or accumulated before the marriage will generally be considered “separate.” This concept is best explained through the following examples:

  • If spouse “A” works at a job for twenty years and accumulates a pension, and was married for the entire twenty years, then all of the pension benefits would be marital.
  • If spouse “A” works at a job for twenty years, and was only married for the last five of those years, then the first fifteen years of benefits would be separate and the last five would be marital.

The Court may choose to equally divide any benefits or retirement balances that are considered marital in nature. So, if an entire pension is marital then the non-earning spouse may receive one-half of all monthly benefits, as an example.

It is common for spouses to want to keep their pension benefits or retirement accounts in their entirety. The fact that Florida is an “equitable divorce” state makes this possible. A spouse may be able to reach an agreement in which they retain all of their retirement benefits and give up something else in exchange. An example of this would be one who keeps their retirement accounts, in full, in exchange for assuming a greater proportion of debt or giving up a greater proportion of other assets. Reaching such an arrangement requires the proper identification of assets as marital or separate and the ability to reach an agreement on such issues. If you are going through the end of a marriage, and are concerned about your retirement assets, then it is vital that you speak with an attorney as soon as possible.

As a Melbourne divorce lawyer, I regularly deal with issues involving the division of marital property. Contact my office today to schedule an initial consultation. We also service clients in the Brevard County cities of Titusville, Cocoa, Palm Bay, Grant, Valkaria, and Rockledge, as well as in the Indian River County areas of Fellsmere, Sebastian, Vero Beach, Indian River Shores, and Orchid.

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