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Divorce, Remarriage, and Equitable Distribution of Retirement Accounts


When young people get divorced, a major factor that the court considers in determining equitable distribution of the marital property is each party’s earning potential.  When both spouses are still of working age at the time of the divorce, even if one of them was out of the workforce for most of the time that they were married.  The assumption is that both parties will work after the divorce.  If the parties were married for more than 17 years, and one party was a stay-at-home parent but is younger than 50 at the time of the divorce, the court might award permanent alimony, with the assumption that, even though this disadvantaged spouse will work, her income will be much lower than that of her former spouse, due to the many years she spent outside the workforce.  When people are close to retirement or already retired when they divorce, the assumption is that they will both depend primarily on retirement income, so equitable distribution of retirement accounts can become a contentious issue.  If you had once looked forward to retirement with your spouse but, now that you are retired, have decided to divorce, contact a South Florida divorce lawyer.

Can You Still Get Survivor Benefits from Your Ex-Spouse’s Retirement Account If Your Ex-Spouse Remarries?

Most of the time, money from a retirement account only gets paid out to the account holder.  If the account holder’s spouse has survivor benefits, then the surviving spouse can receive money from the account after the account holder dies.  Money that accrues in the account during the marriage is marital property.  If the account holder gets a divorce, the former spouse can ask the court to issue a QDRO (qualified domestic relations order) so that the account will pay out a court-ordered percentage of the money to the former spouse.

Darby and John divorced after 29 years of marriage.  John had three retirement accounts from his career in law enforcement, and he was still working at the time of the divorce.  Their marital settlement agreement provided that Darby would get 50 percent of John’s retirement accounts, including the money that accrued during their marriage, as well as the money that accrued after the divorce.  It also said that Darby would get survivor’s benefits from the accounts.  John remarried in 2016, and the court ruled that Darby could continue to get 50 percent of the retirement income that accrued during and after the marriage.  (The judge noted that, in contract law, the agreement can be foolish but still be enforceable.)  It ruled, however, that survivor’s benefits could only go to John’s current wife, not his former wife Darby.

Reach Out to Us Today for Help

A Boca Raton divorce lawyer can help you divide your marital assets so that both parties can get their fair share of retirement income and enjoy a comfortable standard of living, even if one spouse remarries.  Contact Schwartz | White for help with your case.




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