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Retirement plans present complicated issues in divorce

On Behalf of | Aug 8, 2019 | High-asset Divorce

As this blog has discussed on previous occasions, many men in the Omaha area have a lot of wealth tied up in their retirement plans. While individual retirement accounts, or IRAs, are available, many if not most Nebraskans utilize their employers’ 401(k) plans. Government jobs, as well as a few large private businesses located in Omaha, also offer pension plans.

Like other property, retirement plans can be considered marital property subject to division in a high-asset divorce or legal separation. However, under Nebraska law, not all pensions and retirement plans are automatically deemed marital property. By way of example, many men work for several years and acquire a substantial nest egg in their retirement plans before getting married.

In these circumstances, these men may be able to argue that since they acquired this wealth through their own efforts and prior to marriage they should be able to keep those assets without having to divide them. Setting off the non-marital portion of a retirement plan can, however, be a complicated task.

Moreover, both those going through a divorce or separation and happily married couples need to understand how to put a value on their retirement plans, especially if their portfolio includes a pension. Because a pension is a steady stream of income that a person will get in the future, it may be necessary to calculate how much the pension is worth at present and in a lump sum. Dividing these assets may also require extra steps, like preparing and issuing a qualified domestic relations order, or QDRO.

A divorce involving a retirement plan will have to be handled carefully on a number of levels. A man who is interested in protecting this asset as much as possible should therefore strongly consider speaking to an experienced family law attorney.