The National Directory of Certified Public Accountants

Ask A CPA - Divorce & Marriage Issues

Is My Spouse Entitled To A Share Of My 401(K) Retirement Account When I Get Divorced?

Generally, if you have a 401(k) retirement account and get divorced, your spouse will probably be entitled to a share of the money. The money that accumulates in a retirement account during marriage is considered a marital asset. Marital assets are divided between the divorcing spouses. The formula for dividing marital assets depends partly on the laws of the state in which you live and partly on your specific circumstances. In community property states, marital assets in general are split 50-50. Currently, the community property states are Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. In equitable distribution states, marital assets are divided equitably. The ultimate decision of what is fair is made by the court in your state. Generally, the court determines how much of your 401(k)retirement plan is a marital asset by dividing the number of years you have been married by the number of years you have been a plan member.

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