Hartley Law Office, LLC

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How are retirement benefits divided in a divorce?

One of the concerns you may have when getting a divorce in Ohio is what will happen with your retirement accounts. Retirement accounts can often be included as property that is divided when you file for divorce. Private and government retirement accounts can be divided, but Social Security is treated differently. They are considered when making property division rulings.

According to the Ohio State Bar Association, the actual division of accounts depends on when the retirement plans were contributed to. Any part of an account that was accumulated during the marriage is consider a marital asset and will be up for division as an asset. All assets are divided equally between the two of you regardless of who contributed to the account. Generally speaking, you are each entitled to half of the value of each retirement plan. However, courts can decide differently, and if a portion of the account was from before the marriage, it may not be included.

To divide an account, it must be transferred. This requires a court order in most cases. IRAs, though, can often be transferred with just a written letter explaining the transfer.

The value of accounts is not always straightforward. Figuring the value can be tricky and depends largely on what type of account it is. Social security is figured much differently than other types of retirement plans. In some cases, the present dollar value is used while other plans may be figured using statements of invested funds.

In any case, it is your responsibility to ensure all retirement plans are included in your divorce agreement. Anything not included will not be divided, and you will probably lose all access to those plans if they are in your spouse's name. This information is only intended to educate and should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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