Your Family Matters

What will happen to retirement assets in a divorce?

On Behalf of | Aug 14, 2023 | Family Law

During a divorce, both spouses typically want to walk away from the marriage with what fairly belongs to them. If you have significant retirement assets to consider in your divorce, though, you might wonder if those accounts will remain intact after the split.

Saving for retirement requires significant time, effort and discipline, so it is only natural to think about what will happen to your savings in a divorce. By understanding what the law says about retirement accounts during a separation, you can take steps to protect what is yours and effectively plan for the future.

Retirement accounts are subject to asset division

Any contributions you make to a retirement account during the course of your marriage are likely part of the marital property you share with your spouse. This means that those contributions are subject to New York’s Equitable Distribution Law.  Under this law, the court will strive to divide marital retirement assets between spouses as equitably as possible, even if this means that a higher-earning spouse might emerge from the process with fewer retirement assets than they started with.

You can protect your retirement assets through mediation

Mediation provides an opportunity for divorcing spouses to arrive at their own terms for asset division outside of court. If maintaining your retirement accounts is a high priority for you, you can use mediation as a chance to compromise with your soon-to-be ex-spouse. An unbiased mediator can help guide this process toward a favorable outcome that satisfies both parties.

In the absence of a separation agreement, the court will distribute retirement assets acquired during the course of marriage between spouses. This can affect your retirement plans and prolong divorce proceedings, so it may be worthwhile to collaborate with your spouse toward a mutually-agreeable solution.