What Happens to 401(K) in a Divorce?

401(K) plans need to be considered when divorce happens.

In many states, when a divorce occurs, a 401(k) plan is treated as a marital asset, which means that it is subject to division between the two spouses.

The exact process for dividing a 401(k) in a divorce will depend on the laws of the state in which the divorce is taking place, as well as the specific terms of the divorce settlement.

Generally, there are two main options for dividing a 401(k) in a divorce:

  1. One spouse can receive a portion of the other spouse’s 401(k) as part of the divorce settlement. This can be done through a process called “qualified domestic relations order” (QDRO), which allows for the transfer of a portion of one spouse’s 401(k) to the other spouse’s retirement account without incurring any taxes or penalties.
  2. The 401(k) can be split directly between the two spouses, with each spouse receiving a portion of the funds in their own retirement account. This can be done through a QDRO or through a direct transfer of funds from one spouse’s 401(k) to the other spouse’s account.

In some cases, a 401(k) plan may be considered a non-marital asset, depending on the laws of the state in which the divorce is taking place and the specific circumstances of the case.

A non-marital asset is generally defined as property that was owned by one spouse prior to the marriage, or property that was acquired by one spouse during the marriage through inheritance or gift. If a 401(k) plan was established by one spouse before the marriage, or if contributions to the plan were made from non-marital funds (such as inherited funds), the 401(k) may be considered a non-marital asset.

However, it is important to note that in many cases, even if a 401(k) was established before the marriage, the value of the plan may have increased during the marriage due to contributions made from marital funds (such as income earned during the marriage). In such cases, the increase in value may be considered a marital asset and may be subject to division in a divorce.

Additionally, in some cases, a 401(k) plan may be considered a non-marital asset, depending on the laws of the state in which the divorce is taking place and the specific circumstances of the case.

A non-marital asset is generally defined as property that was owned by one spouse prior to the marriage, or property that was acquired by one spouse during the marriage through inheritance or gift. If a 401(k) plan was established by one spouse before the marriage, or if contributions to the plan were made from non-marital funds (such as inherited funds), the 401(k) may be considered a non-marital asset.

However, it is important to note that in many cases, even if a 401(k) was established before the marriage, the value of the plan may have increased during the marriage due to contributions made from marital funds (such as income earned during the marriage). In such cases, the increase in value may be considered a marital asset, and may be subject to division in a divorce.

Whether a 401(k) plan is considered a marital or non-marital asset in a divorce will depend on the specific laws and circumstances of the case, and it is advisable to consult with an attorney or financial advisor to determine the best course of action.

Additionally, divorce attorneys can best assess whether a 401(k) plan is considered a marital or non-marital asset in a divorce.  As such, it is important to consult with a Fee-Only financial adviser or attorney or can review your specific state laws and any applicable agreements.

About This Article

This article was published and distributed by 401kPlanAdviser.com, a trusted source of independent ideas. It should be viewed as general and educational information and not as financial, tax or legal advice. Individuals seeking advice tailored to their specific situation are encouraged to schedule a free consultation with a professional listed in the 1800Adviser.com directory. Both 401kPlanAdviser.com and 1800Adviser.com are owned and operated by The Independent Adviser Corporation. For additional information, please refer to their Privacy Policy and Terms of Use, Legal Notices, and Disclaimer.

About Us

Founded in 1998, The Independent Adviser Corporation has assisted thousands of individuals, families, and businesses. We are 100% Independent and 100% Objective™. We offer FREE educational resources and investment ideas, and when financial, tax or legal advice is needed, we connect individuals with Fee-Only professionals. Don’t wait any longer. For more information or to schedule a free consultation, please visit 1800ADVISER.COM.

© 2023-2024 The Independent Adviser Corporation.
All rights reserved.
Our Great Privacy Policy 
Terms of Use, Legal Notices and Disclaimers