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Understanding retirement accounts and property division

The division of marital assets is a primary focus within many Florida divorce cases. Often, spouses are not on equal footing when it comes to having a comprehensive understanding of the financial matters within their marriage. This can leave one spouse at a particular disadvantage when it comes to negotiating property division.

The division of retirement benefits is a prime example. While many spouses feel that they are relatively well-informed about the retirement savings held by their partner, the reality is that there are many instances in which one spouse is almost completely in the dark about how much has been saved for retirement, or what share of those savings he or she is entitled to. Understanding these issues is critical to achieving a favorable settlement.

The first step lies in obtaining statements from all retirement accounts. Having this information will give a spouse the chance to gain awareness of just how much has been set aside, and in what type of investment vehicle. That information should be provided to one's divorce attorney, who can begin to counsel his or her client on which retirement assets to pursue during negotiations.

Divorce requires spouses to conduct a great many tasks, and gathering financial data is near the top of that list. It is impossible to create a negotiation strategy unless each spouse understands the assets that are held within the marriage. Retirement savings are just one aspect of property division, but one to which Florida spouses should pay close attention as they work to divide marital assets.

Source: Forbes, "Divorcing Women: How Much Do You Know About Your Husband's Retirement?", Jeff Landers, July 29, 2015

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