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Dividing an IRA in divorce

When couples in Connecticut divorce, asset division is often a primary concern. In many cases, Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) may be the couple's most substantial assets. Because of their significance within the marital estate, dividing these accounts can be a complicated process.

Some types of retirement accounts, such as a 401(k), can be divided in a divorce via a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). This document can be used to distribute Qualified Retirement Plans so that neither spouse suffers any negative tax or early withdrawal penalties.

However, IRAs are treated differently under the tax code. A QDRO is not necessary for the tax-free division of these accounts, but there is no escaping a 10 percent tax penalty on early withdrawals from an IRA.

Because of these considerations, determining the division of an IRA may take some time. A financial planner or accountant with experience in divorce matters may be able to assist in the division process. Other marital assets and debts will also need to be considered. For example, if the couple owns a home, business or has savings, all of these will factor into the final divorce settlement.

Individuals going through a divorce, or who are considering ending their marriage, may benefit from speaking with an experienced family law attorney. The lawyer might be able to review the client's case, including assets, and make recommendations regarding a fair and equitable division.

In complex cases, the attorney may also be able to work with financial professionals to develop a settlement that protects the client's best interests. In addition, the lawyer could provide advice on other issues, such as child custody and support payments.

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