One of the most significant parts of the divorce proceeding is going through
the process to divide property and assets. Under Oregon's laws of
equitable distribution, each spouse in the marriage receives the amount
the court deems fair based on factors such as the amount of property to
be divided, the length of the marriage and individual contributions.
Retirement assets and pension plans held by the divorcing spouses may also
be included in the property division process.
How does equitable distribution affect retirement plans?
Retirement plans are often one of the largest properties a person possesses.
Property refers to anything owned by either spouse, whether it is marital
property, or that which has been acquired during the marriage, or separate,
which is anything owned outside of the marriage. While separate assets
can be divided in divorce, they are less likely to be touched. Division
of marital assets will be the main focus of the court, but Oregon does
allows for the division of separate property if in the interest of making
the estate equitable.
How are retirement plans divided?
Retirement plans will be looked at as any other property. The first step
will be to detail what accounts and plans you have and then assign value
to the account. Taxes that will need to be paid on the acquired property
will also be considered. When a spouse has been paying into a retirement
plan before the marriage, some of the retirement plan is separate property
and must be recognized as so in property division. Based on these values,
the plans will be divided according to a percentage based on what each
What about employer-sponsored retirement plans?
If a former spouse has an employer-sponsored retirement plan, such as a
401(k) or pension, then both spouses are entitled to a share. Protecting
this share can be done by filling out a Qualified Domestic Relations Order,
which informs a pension plan how to distribute benefits. However, the
Qualified Domestic Relations Order does not apply to military or government
benefits and must be filed separately from the divorce petition.
Division of property can be extremely complicated, especially in an equitable
distribution state such as Oregon. Such important assets should not be
left in the hands of anyone other than an experienced divorce attorney.
We invite you to contact us to discuss how to ensure your best interest are taken care of in your divorce case.