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Courtney & Mills, LLC  Approaching Every Case with Strength, Education and Respect
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Springfield Retirement Considerations Attorney

When you are getting a divorce in Missouri, all of your marital property (and debts) will be subject to equitable distribution. Before your divorce can be finalized, a property settlement must be reached. While dividing assets like a house and bank accounts may seem reasonable, you may have questions or concerns about dividing your retirement savings. Here’s what you need to know about division of retirement benefits/funds in a divorce. For help that’s specific to your case, connect with our Springfield retirement considerations attorney directly today.

Is Retirement Divided in a Divorce?

Retirement benefits are likely subject to division in a divorce. Because the state requires that marital assets be divided in a manner that is equitable, any portion of a retirement plan accrued during the course of the marriage will be subject to distribution in a divorce. Note that if benefits or a retirement plan were accrued prior to marriage, then they will be considered separate, not marital, assets and will not be subject to division.

Retirement Division Considerations

How a retirement plan will be divided depends, in part, on whether or not the plan is public or private. If the plan is a private plan, then the court will probably need to issue what’s known as a QDRO – a qualified domestic relations order. A QDRO is an order for a plan to be distributed per the terms of the divorce judgment. Any retirement plans that are covered by the Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) will require a QDRO to distribute.

Public retirement plans, such as those that are facilitated through the Federal Employees’ Retirement System (FERS), do not require a QDRO. Instead, in order to distribute retirement funds in a FERS, a document known as a Court Order for Acceptable Processing (COAP) must be obtained.

Missouri courts also have the jurisdiction and right to distribute military retirement benefits in a divorce, although there is no specific form (QDRO vs. COAP) that’s required to do so. Additionally, the rules that apply to QDROs and private retirement plans also do not apply to Thrift Savings Plans (TSPs); instead, a valid Retirement Benefits Court Order (RBCO) must be issued in order to make distributions to a spouse via a court order.

Why You Should Talk to an Attorney About Retirement Considerations

Clearly, the rules for dividing retirement accounts in a divorce are confusing, and the process is made even more complex by the array of different order and document types that must be used in order to actually distribute benefits once a determination related to distribution has been issued. One thing that can bring clarity to the process is working with a qualified Springfield retirement considerations attorney. Your attorney will not only advocate for your best interests in reaching a settlement about how benefits should be divided, but will also help you to secure the proper forms for actually facilitating that distribution.

At the law office of Courtney & Mills, LLC, our family law and retirement considerations attorneys in Springfield are here to serve you. Call us today for a consultation.

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