If you are facing divorce and have one or more retirement or investment accounts, you may have concerns about what will happen to these assets. Like many, you may assume that the court will not divide accounts that are in your name.
However, in Ohio, retirement benefits and investments that accrue during the marriage become marital property that may be subject to distribution upon divorce.
What retirement/investment accounts may be divisible?
If you made contributions to an account before your marriage, those contributions generally remain your separate property, not divisible at divorce. However, any contributions you made to a plan or account during your marriage are marital property in the eyes of the court and subject to equitable distribution. This is true even if you were the sole contributor to the account.
Retirement benefits that the court may distribute during divorce include employer-offered plans, private 401(k)s, federal public plans and state pension plans like the Public Employees Retirement System.
How might the court divide retirement assets?
In Ohio, the court divides marital assets equitably, rather than equally. A judge may award a greater portion of retirement assets to you or your ex-spouse, depending on what the court deems fair.
What if you want an uncontested dissolution of marriage?
If your divorce goes to court, a judge may have the final word on dividing shared property, including complex assets like retirement accounts. However, if you and your spouse can agree to negotiate an agreement out of court, you may be able to find creative ways to distribute marital assets in a way that is both reasonably fair and financially astute.