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Dividing retirement: Get help to do it right

When you're getting divorced, one of the things you have to decide is how you'll split your retirement. Splitting retirement is relatively simple thanks to California's community property laws. You'll split any retirement earned while married, but anything from before or after marriage will not be split.

Your spouse will only be entitled to 50% of the value of the funds you accrued during your marriage in a 401(K) or other account. If you have a pension plan or other retirement options, it's a good idea to contact your attorney to work through the steps, since a pension plan has special requirements.

What can you do to avoid splitting retirement funds?

It is possible that you can leave your marriage without dividing your retirement assets. Since the state requires that your assets are split 50-50, the only thing you have to worry about is dividing the value of your assets in half. You could avoid touching your retirement account if you're willing to give up another asset or to buy out your spouse's portion now.

How do you guarantee a 50% split in a divorce?

With things like retirement, stocks and other assets, it can be hard to find out what a 50-50 split really is. Fortunately, there is a simple solution, which is to add up all the assets you've been given and to subtract it from the total value of the marital estate. If your spouse still has more than you but other assets can't be divided or liquidated, they may be able to give you cash in exchange to make up the difference.

Is it a good idea to work with an attorney if you have a retirement account involved in your divorce?

It is always a good idea to reach out to an attorney if you are going through a divorce, no matter what kinds of assets are involved. You want to make sure you do everything correctly, including getting your assets' values right so that you get the most out of your marriage.

Divorce can be complicated, and the rules associated with retirement accounts can be tricky. Your attorney will take the time to review your divorce and the factors that play a role in it, so that they can help you build the best plan for getting the most out of your assets while protecting your best interests later on.

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