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Retirement accounts: a big part of the equation in many divorces

Here's a hypothetical that, while fictional, rings largely true in certain aspects for literally millions of divorcing couples across the country, including in Georgia.

You're getting divorced after, say, 15-20 years of marriage (maybe more). During your marriage, you and your spouse both worked, with both of you contributing assets as you could to various retirement vehicles. Those might have included IRAs, company-sponsored 401(k) deferred-savings plans and other accounts. Perhaps one or both of you have been promised a company pension. Perhaps one or both of you contributed to thrift savings plans, participated in a profit-sharing program, have stock options, annuities and other savings earmarked for the future.

How do you equitably divide all those up in a divorce proceeding? How do you even begin to do so?

A first logical step in seeing through the maze, establishing order and beginning to formulate a plan that makes sense is to consult a proven family law attorney with a deep well of experience in property division matters.

The reasons for doing so are both immediate and diverse, since much of what you both worked together to achieve must now be accurately valuated and equitably apportioned. Couples in many marriages of more than fleeting duration manage to accumulate significant assets in numerous savings vehicles that, when it comes time to divorce, can seem scattered, unrelated, overly difficult to value and almost impossible to make sense of.

Retirement assets -- their identification, valuation and ultimate handling -- can flatly be one of the most complex and time-consuming considerations in a divorce proceeding. Dealing effectively with them can be a greatly enhanced proposition when an experienced property division attorney is working closely with you.

We will have a bit more to say about that in our next blog post.

Source:, "Who gets the retirement accounts in a divorce?" Janet Raasch, May 29, 2013

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