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Denver Parental Alienation

Division of Retirement Benefits in Denver

In the process of divorce, the division of assets is an important step, yet the division of retirement benefits in Colorado is often overlooked. Many couples initially focus on dividing tangible assets such as homes, vehicles, savings, and personal valuables. However, in many marriages, retirement accounts represent one of the largest assets, second to real estate. This significant financial resource can sometimes be forgotten, especially when the divorce occurs long before the parties are close to retirement age.

The division of retirement benefits in Colorado should be a major focus during asset division discussions. It is important to ensure that these benefits are fairly distributed, securing both parties’ financial future post-divorce. The experienced family lawyers at Colorado Legal Group are well-versed in the complexities of Colorado’s laws regarding the division of retirement benefits. They are committed to helping clients navigate through the divorce process effectively, ensuring a financial settlement that positions them favorably for the future.

What Happens To Retirement Benefits in a Divorce?

The division of retirement benefits in Colorado typically hinges on the value these accounts have gained during the marriage. This calculation often coincides with the division of other marital assets, though it involves more complex considerations.

For instance, say you were married for 10 years but the retirement accounts have been accruing for 30 years. In such cases, only the portion of the retirement accounts that accrued during the marriage—essentially one-third in this example—is considered marital property and subject to division. If the court decides to split this marital property equally, each spouse would receive approximately 16.65 percent of the total current value of the retirement accounts.

However, it’s important to note that in Colorado, the division of marital property is not necessarily equal but rather based on what is deemed equitable, or fair, by the court. This means the division of retirement benefits in Colorado could vary depending on the specifics of the case.

With a pension, for example, parties have to decide to either evaluate the pension to figure out today’s value of the future payments, or to use the time rule formula where each spouse is accorded a certain percentage of whatever ends up getting paid out in the future.

After the divorce is finalized, the division of retirement benefits in Colorado is typically executed through a legal instrument known as a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). This order, typically drafted by a financial expert, ensures that each party receives their rightful share according to the divorce decree. More detailed information about how QDROs function is provided in the following section.

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Division of Retirement Benefits in Denver

Qualified Domestic Relations Order & Domestic Relations Order

What is a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) and a Domestic Relations Order (DRO)?

A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) instructs a Plan Administrator of a retirement account how to pay a share of plan benefits to an ex-spouse. This qualified domestic relations order is almost always necessary for payment to be made directly to the divorced spouse, except that some Plan Administrators do not require it depending on the type of retirement account.

A Domestic Relations Order (DRO) is used for pensions (vs. private retirement accounts).
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Types of Retirement Accounts Subject to Division

When navigating the division of retirement benefits in Colorado, it’s important to understand the various types of retirement accounts that can be impacted. The process involves several different kinds of retirement savings plans, each with its own rules and considerations for division during a divorce.

Traditional and Roth IRAs

Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), both Traditional and Roth, are common retirement savings accounts. In a divorce, both types are subject to division. The portion of these accounts accumulated during the marriage is considered marital property and may be divided between the spouses.

401(k) and 403(b) Plans

Contributions made to employer-sponsored plans like 401(k)s and 403(b)s during the marriage are typically part of the division of retirement benefits in Colorado. The exact split of these accounts is determined by the court’s assessment of what is fair and equitable, not necessarily equal.

Pension Plans

Pension plans, which provide a fixed payout at retirement, are another key asset. The portion of the pension accrued from the date of marriage to the date of separation is considered in the division. Dividing a pension often requires a QDRO to ensure that each spouse receives their share upon the pension holder’s retirement.

Other Retirement Benefits

Other types of retirement benefits, such as governmental pensions (including military retirement benefits) and deferred compensation plans, may also be divided during a divorce. These require careful analysis to understand how they can be equitably distributed between the parties.

Common Mistakes to Avoid in Dividing Retirement Assets

The division of retirement benefits in Colorado requires careful consideration and strategic planning. Avoiding common pitfalls can help ensure that both parties receive a fair and equitable share of these valuable financial resources. Here are some key mistakes to avoid:

Overlooking Tax Implications

One common mistake when it comes to the division of retirement benefits in Colorado is not accounting for the taxes on withdrawals from some of these accounts. Types of accounts like 401(k)s and IRAs are taxed differently. It’s important to understand these tax differences to prevent surprise tax bills and ensure each party receives their fair share.

Ignoring the Value of Different Types of Retirement Accounts

Not all retirement accounts are the same. For instance, money in a Roth IRA, which you can take out tax-free, is not worth the same as money in a traditional 401(k) that gets taxed when you withdraw it. Ignoring these differences and treating all accounts as equal can lead to an unfair division of retirement benefits in Colorado.

Failing to Use a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO)

Not using a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) can cause big issues. A QDRO is key as it allows retirement benefits to be split without triggering penalties for early withdrawal. It also makes sure that each spouse legally gets their rightful share as outlined in the divorce agreement.

Not Updating Beneficiary Designations

It’s important to update the beneficiary designations on all accounts after the division of retirement benefits in Colorado. If not updated, benefits might accidentally go to the wrong person, like an ex-spouse, if one of the parties passes away.

Underestimating the Value of Future Benefits

It’s easy to underestimate the future value of pensions and other defined benefit plans. To make sure these assets are fairly assessed and divided, it’s important to get a present value calculation from a financial expert.

Not Considering the Full Extent of Retirement Assets

Sometimes, people miss out on considering some retirement assets, especially if they aren’t currently producing income or are a bit unusual, like foreign retirement accounts or military pensions. It’s important to make sure that every type of retirement-related asset is included during the division of retirement benefits in Colorado to ensure a fair process.

By steering clear of these common mistakes and seeking the guidance of professionals specialized in the division of retirement benefits in Colorado, both parties can achieve a division that is fair and sets them up for financial stability post-divorce.

Do You Need A Lawyer to Assess and Divide Pensions and Retirement Accounts?

Yes, it is always advisable to involve your lawyer as early as possible in the process when discussing the key elements of a divorce settlement:

Because divorces are emotional times for the parties concerned, an experienced divorce attorney can mitigate the stress and help you make clearer decisions that are in your immediate and long-term interests.

Particularly when it comes to the division of retirement benefits in Colorado, including pensions and retirement accounts, the process can be intricate. It often necessitates the expertise of professionals who are adept at navigating various pension systems and can accurately value these assets. This might involve hiring an expert to assess the value of a pension or to prepare a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO).

You’ll need guidance on several important aspects:

  • How are retirement benefits divided?
  • Who is going to pay?
  • When are payments going to be made?
  • For how long will payments apply?

You also want to work with a lawyer who is up-to-date with the latest legal changes concerning pension payments to ex-spouses, as mistakes in this area can be costly.

Our lawyers are specialists in the division of retirement benefits in Colorado, including military retirement benefits, and are connected with seasoned experts who can assist in accurately valuing and dividing these assets. This ensures that you receive fair and just treatment under the current Colorado laws.

How Our Lawyers Can Help You Reach Fair Results

At Colorado Legal Group, our experienced attorneys specialize in ensuring that you don’t lose significant financial assets by improperly dividing pensions and retirement benefits during your divorce. With office locations in Denver, Colorado Springs, and Grand Junction, our extensive experience with the division of retirement benefits in Colorado and various pension plans has equipped us with deep insights and specialized knowledge, allowing us to secure the best possible outcomes for our clients.

We commit to guiding you toward a fair and equitable agreement that the court will approve. To safeguard your interests effectively, it is important to involve our legal team at the onset of your divorce proceedings, before you start the asset division process.

Need help with the division of retirement benefits in Colorado?

Call Colorado Legal Group at 720.784.5550 or get started with a free case evaluation. Get Started

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