Dougherty Tobias Iszard, Northern Virginia Law, P.C.

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Protecting retirement funds

Property division during a divorce can be tricky, particularly among older couples who have developed significant and complex assets over the years. If you have contributed to a retirement fund during the marriage, that account may be subject to Virginia's equitable distribution requirements. At Donna Dougherty Law PC, we have helped many clients navigate the intricacies of protecting high-value assets.

According to the Internal Revenue Service, a retirement fund may be considered fair game for immediate or future distribution after divorce depending upon the type of plan in question. Upon separation, you may wish to take rapid steps to protect these assets by switching beneficiaries in accordance with the forms and guidelines provided by the account administrator.

If the court determines that your children, ex-spouse or additional dependents are entitled to some share in the retirement fund, however, it may issue a QDRO, or Qualified Domestic Relations Order, dictating the division of this fund. Likewise, your ex-spouse must submit a QDRO to your retirement plan administrator before he or she can expect to receive any associated benefits.

Even if a qualifying retirement plan, such as a 401(k), is solely in your name, it is likely available for equitable distribution under Virginia law if you acquired it during the course of your marriage. Losing these funds can have a significant and negative impact on your well-being during retirement. To protect your quality of life during your golden years and minimize the possibility that your spouse can take advantage of you, it is crucial that you have accurate information about state guidelines for valuing and dividing property. More information about property division is available on our web page.

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