Peaceful Divorce

How Do You Divide Retirement Funds After a Divorce?

{2:30 to read} In virtually every divorce, assets are divided. However, dividing a teacher’s or other government employee’s retirement account is not possible in every state - as is the case with Georgia.

First some background: The division of retirement plans is governed by something called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, or QDRO. QDROs are a separate form from the divorce decree. 

Because the State of Georgia does not allow the division of government retirement accounts,any division of the funds to which a member may agree must be handled privately by that member. In contrast to Georgia and Indiana, some of the most populous states that allow court-ordered division include New York, Florida and Illinois.

How are these assets divided when the court cannot divide them and the individual cannot divide them because the system won't allow it?

A great example of a situation like this is a case I mediated in which the husband was a state employee. There were no other assets involved other than his retirement. During the divorce, the parties found out they couldn’t divide his retirement plan. He could give his ex-spouse money when he started to receive it, but she did not want to be at his mercy - what if he didn’t retire until 70 and she had to wait?

If you are a state employee, or married to a state employee, you need to be aware of these rules - especially in Georgia. There are ways to guarantee that the less-monied spouse will not be “ at the mercy” of the spouse with the retirement account when drafting the divorce agreement.

What are the rules that govern your or your spouse’s retirement account?

 

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