Elderly man hand showing a jar full of coins.

Your Rights to Retirement Assets 

Shep Law Group Sept. 29, 2022

Among all the difficult decisions you must make when going through a divorce, some of the most contentious revolve around finances. If you’re going through a divorce or were just served divorce papers and would like to speak with a family law attorney, contact us at Shep Law Group. We’re able to assist you with any aspect of your divorce and can offer specific advice about dividing retirement assets in a divorce, as well as answer questions about each spouse’s right to retirement accounts during a divorce.  

If you’re in Boise, Meridian, Ada County, Canyon County, or anywhere throughout Idaho, reach out to our team today to schedule a consultation.  

Idaho Division of Property  

Each state has its own practices and guidelines regarding asset division during a divorce. Idaho is a community property state, which means that any assets that were acquired during the marriage are considered joint property and belong to each spouse equally. This is regardless of who is actually named as the owner of the asset.  

As such, the division of assets in Idaho states that all joint property should be split relatively equally between the two spouses during a divorce. In some cases, there will be property that’s considered “separate,” which either means it was acquired before the marriage or it’s an exception to the community property rule, such as inheritance or a gift. 

If the couple cannot come to an agreement on dividing assets together, a judge will intervene and make this decision for them. Among other things, the court will consider the value of the jointly-held assets, how much each spouse has contributed to them, any sacrifices one spouse has made during the marriage (like quitting their job to be a stay-at-home parent), each spouse's ability to earn income, the needs of any minor children, and each spouse’s age and health. 

Retirement Assets in Idaho 

One of the trickiest assets to divide in a divorce is retirement funds. Depending on the type of accounts you own, they will have different rules on how they should be divided. You should work closely with your attorney whether you have a defined benefit plan, defined-contribution plan, military benefits, government pension, savings accounts, or a traditional retirement plan like a 401(k), IRA, or annuity.  

This is also made more difficult because people often enter into a marriage with existing accounts they’ve been contributing to. If during the marriage both spouses start adding to the account, you’ll need to determine what contributions were made by whom. In this case, there could be a portion of the account that’s considered marital property and a portion that’s considered separate. 

Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO)  

Certain accounts, such as a 401(k), will require you to have a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). This legal document allows you to disperse a portion of a retirement account to a spouse or other family member. These are quite common in divorces when the assets in a single account need to be split between two parties. This is needed whether a judge decides the division of assets or the couple decides. Either way, it’s important to note that the spouse receiving the payout through the QDRO is responsible for paying any taxes due on those funds, and this should be taken into account when deciding how much each partner will retain.  

Skilled Counsel: Shep Law Group  

If you’re in Boise or Meridian, Idaho, and are concerned about how to best divide assets during your divorce, call us at Shep Law Group to get comprehensive answers and experienced legal assistance you can trust.