Coates & Davenport, P.C.

A high-asset divorce need not derail one's retirement plans

Virginia is an equitable distribution state, meaning that marital property will be divided fairly (although not necessarily equally). Retirement accounts may be considered marital assets that are subject to division, meaning that it is possible for a person to walk away from a divorce -- even a high-asset divorce -- with a significant deficit in their retirement savings.

Of course, divorcing couples can settle their property division issues out of court. For example, they might choose to split their retirement accounts and pensions equally. Or, one spouse might give up a retirement account for another equally valuable asset. Also, if the parties' income and savings are generally equal, each party may simply choose to retain what is in their own name. However, in all these cases, a spouse will have fewer funds for retirement, as they were likely counting on funding their retirement with both their accounts and their spouse's accounts.

In addition, increasing one's retirement savings after divorce can be complex. For example, a person might be limited in how much they can invest in a retirement account based on their age and income. However, people can still max out what they can funnel into a retirement account, and they can also save funds on their own in a taxable investment account. Waiting until age 70 to start receiving Social Security benefits can also help.

In the end, while divorce will affect how much one has for retirement, people can still bounce back financially. While retirement assets may be considered marital assets subject to division, there are ways to make sure you will eventually have enough funds to retire on. Understanding property division laws is key to ensuring the division of retirement assets is fair.

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