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How Are 401(k)s Divided in a Divorce?

If you’ve made the hard decision to file for a divorce or are in the beginning stages of a divorce, you probably have a million thoughts and emotions running through your head. Divorce is hard. And it’s compounded by the fact that now you and your spouse have to figure out how you’re going to divide what once belonged to both of you. From property to children, you have to decide who gets what, which child, and when. Another consideration in the divorce is how your and/or your spouse’s 401(k) is divided.

When you’re going through a divorce and are trying to figure out how to divide your or your spouse’s 401(k), you need a divorce lawyer who understands the complex division of property laws that relate to divorce. The attorneys at Arenson Law Group, PC are experienced in all areas of these laws and understand how to best help you achieve your desired outcome in your divorce.

Marital and Separate Property

Dividing property is a part of divorce that can bring fierce disagreement. Property is anything that has value — something that can be sold and bought. Property includes homes, cars, and jewelry, and also financial things like bank accounts, stock portfolios, and retirement benefits.

You and your spouse may have entered the marriage with property that each of you had already acquired. In Iowa, once you get married, everything that had prior to the marriage and everything that you acquire after the marriage becomes shared property between the two of you. That shared property will have to be divided between you in your divorce. This is known as equitable distribution (inheritance and personal gifts are excluded from shared property).

Your or your spouse’s 401(k) may be more valuable than much of your other property. You both have worked hard for years to earn it. Because it is so valuable, you likely want to retain as much of your 401(k) as possible and be sure you are given your fair share of what you are owed. The value and importance of 401(k)s are why dividing them in a divorce requires a completely separate court order, called a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO). Whatever you earned in your 401(k) prior to your marriage and what you continued to earn while married will be divided between you and your spouse.

The division of the marital property portion of your or your spouse’s 401(k) will be considered with the division of other property between you two. For instance, if the value of such property awarded to your spouse is equal to the amount of the 401(k), the court may award the entire 401(k) to you. The goal is for there to be a fair and equitable distribution of all property held between you two. A common method some spouses use when dividing their 401(k)s is to roll the portion of their 401(k) owed to their spouse into another 401(k) account for their spouse. When 401(k)s are divided in a divorce, you typically do not have to bear the tax penalty that occurs when you withdraw from your 401(k) before retirement age.

Why Choose Arenson Law Group, PC?

The attorneys at Arenson Law Group, PC are committed to providing progressive legal representation to all of our clients. We’re skilled and experienced in representing Iowans throughout Linn, Benton, Johnson, Cedar, Black Hawk, Jones, and Buchanan counties in many of their legal matters. We’ve represented clients in legal issues ranging from business law, corporate law, automotive dealer law, real estate law, estate planning, and litigation to family law, including divorce, alimony, child custody and visitation, and child support issues. We have built a reputation based on hard work and commitment to every single one of our clients, and their words reflect that.

Our attorneys have been practicing law for decades. We are members of the Iowa State and American Bar Associations and are admitted to practice in numerous state, federal and appeals courts. We have decades of experience in business and corporate law and years of experience in family law, helping protect the rights of our clients and helping them reach favorable outcomes for their legal issues. We’ve been named one of the Best Divorce Lawyers in 2021 by Expertise.com.

Contact Us Today

When you’re facing the challenging road of divorce, you need a lawyer who can advocate for your best interests and support you during this difficult time. The lawyers at Arenson Law Group, PC are exactly who you need to represent you. We will work tirelessly in our advocacy for you. Call us today at (319) 363-8199 to discuss your divorce case with one of our attorneys and see how we can best help you.