Michael G. Putter Attorney at Law
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Pensions, retirement accounts have special divorce requirements

People often work at companies that offer retirement benefits. This is a great way that you can save for your retirement and know that you will be taken care of in the future. There is one situation that might throw a wrench in those plans – a divorce. If you are going through a divorce, you will have to determine how those retirement assets will be divided.

Typically, the retirement nest egg is one of the largest assets you have in the marriage. In order to properly divide it, you have to understand some basic points about the process. Many times, these are handled through mediation. The accounts need to be valuated and then divided up.

When you are trying to get this handled, remember that you can't just look at the face value of the assets. You also have to think about penalties and taxes, as well as long-term value. Another point to consider is that you might need a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) to get the accounts moved to where they need to be.

If you need a QDRO in your case, make sure that you have someone on your team who is familiar with these. Even small errors can be very costly. One such error would be failing to speak to the plan's administrator to determine what additional steps, if any, are necessary for the division. Remember, the QDRO is a fully separate document from the divorce decree. This adds something else for you to ensure that you have in order before you can officially call it quits with your ex.

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