Retirement Accounts and Divorce: What Are My Options

divorce lawyersFor those who are looking to get a divorce in CA and are close to the age of retirement, one question always pops up: what happens to my retirement accounts when we split up? Considering the high value of these types of assets, the concern is certainly justified. 

As we’ve explained, assets are generally divided equally between divorcing spouses in CA. For the most part, retirement accounts are treated like any other type of asset, and they are subject to be split down the middle. 

However, pensions, retirement accounts, and other similar assets are subject to a variety of unique rules and regulations. Thus, it is worth thinking about how you want to approach your divorce in relation to dividing these assets, as you want to be proactive about protecting your interests. Here’s a few routes you can take during asset division.

Consider One of the Following Options


  • Leave the account alone: The simplest approach involves leaving the account alone and to your name. This is best achieved when the overall division of assets has balanced out. For example, you might be willing to give up home equity in exchange for keeping all of the retirement account.



  • Transfer funds to another account: You can also move funds from your retirement account to your soon-to-be-ex’s. This can be a little trickier, and must be done correctly for you to avoid additional tax penalties. This option works best with traditional or Roth IRAs. 



  • Submit a QRDO: You can submit a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) to your account administrator in order to authorize a direct payment to the ex. This is also a fairly complicated approach that may involve “adding” your ex to the account and should be reviewed by a qualified legal professional.


Consult with a CA Family Law Attorney 

This post serves as a very simple breakdown of how you can best split retirement accounts during the asset division process of your divorce. As always, we are cognizant that each case is unique, and regardless of what route you prefer, you should always consult with a family law attorney.

Don’t take any steps without vetting your plan with a qualified attorney!

At R & S Law Group, LLP, we’re here to answer all your questions about asset division, divorce, and other family law matters in CA. We offer free initial consultations, so don’t hesitate to reach out to us directly at (949) 825-5245.