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What happens to your retirement account in a California divorce?

On Behalf of | Apr 1, 2021 | Division Of Assets

Trying to split up your property can be one of the most difficult and contentious parts of a modern divorce. You and your ex may have different feelings about what is fair regarding the way you split your property, and you may also want to retain the same assets, which can make divorce significantly more difficult.


Retirement accounts are often highly sought-after assets during divorce. People may worry about what losing part of all of a retirement account will mean for their future. Even if you still have years to save, splitting your retirement account will mean you have less than you’d planned to at this point in your life.


Whether you have a retirement account that you have slowly built during your marriage or your spouse has an account with their employer, you likely wonder what will happen to your retirement funds when you divorce.


Some of your retirement savings are probably community property

In California, the courts can split up anything that is community property. Generally speaking, your income during your marriage and anything else you require while married is community property, partially owned by each spouse.


If you have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement with your spouse, it might designate the retirement account as separate property. If that does not apply to your situation, then the amounts accrued during your marriage will likely get split up by the courts. Acknowledging that a split is likely necessary might make it easier for your and your ex to negotiate and could pave the way to an uncontested filing.



The courts could split the account or its estimated value

Depending on your age, the nature of the retirement account and other factors, the courts can handle it in several different ways. They could order spouses to divide it using a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO).


Although you can’t predict how the courts will divide your property, you can at least establish a rough estimate of the account’s value that accrued during your marriage, which can give you an idea about what your share of it might be during your divorce.