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Investment and Retirement Accounts

Dividing the Nest Egg

Investment and Retirement Accounts in Ohio Divorce

There is a misconception that retirement plans are not divided in divorce. No matter whose name is on the account or whose paychecks are deducted, in the eyes of the law it all goes into one marital pot. That being said, there are complex issues in dividing retirement accounts. Treneff Cozza Law, LLC has extensive experience in this area of property division. Our lawyers are familiar with private QDROs, 401Ks, DOPOs (state employee pensions) and business valuation.

Located in Westerville, we handle divorce and dissolution in greater Columbus and central Ohio. Contact us today to arrange a consultation.

How Are Retirement Investment Accounts Divided?

Any contributions made to your retirement plan prior to marriage are considered separate property. Contributions during the marriage are considered marital property, subject to an equitable distribution under Ohio law. This is true even if only one spouse was working or contributing; generally speaking, money or assets obtained during the marriage are treated as marital property.

Our attorneys prepare and review qualified domestic relations orders (QDROs), which dictate under federal law how defined benefit plans (such as a pension) or defined contribution plans (such as a 401k) are valued and divided. They communicate with the plan administrator to verify plan valuations, benefit descriptions, start dates, and other vital details.

Depending on how other property and debts are treated in divorce, one party may receive a disproportionate share — or even all — of the QDRO assets. Equitable distribution does not call for a 50/50 split, but just that each spouse receives a fair share of the marital estate.

What is a DOPO?
A division of property order, or DOPO, refers to pension plans of state employees. The State of Ohio has five separate pension plans, and each system is slightly different in how benefits are calculated. We are proud of our in-depth knowledge of Public Employees Retirement System (PERS), State Teachers Retirement System (STRS), School Employees Retirement System (SERS), Ohio Highway Patrol Retirement System (OHPRS) and the Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund.

Some state university employees also have a deferred compensation 403(b) plan through TIAA-CREF, with voluntary contributions similar to a 401k. These assets are considered separately.

Treneff Cozza Law, LLC can advise you about fair distribution of investments, including qualified plans, IRAs, stock options, mutual funds, stocks and other assets as they apply to property division in your Ohio divorce. Call us at 614-891-4230 or send us an e-mail to schedule a discussion.