8911 N. Capital of Texas Highway, Building 2, Suite 2105,
Austin, TX 78759

Call Us512-610-6199

TX divorce lawyerWhen you are planning for a high asset divorce in Austin, Texas and know that your retirement accounts will be classified as community property and subject to division under Texas law, you will need to have a plan in place to divide those retirement benefits. For wealthy couples anticipating a high asset divorce, the amount of money in retirement accounts can be substantial. Using a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) to transfer retirement benefits as part of your divorce could end up saving tens of thousands of dollars (or even more depending upon the amount of money in your retirement accounts and the amount that needs to be distributed to your spouse).

We want to tell you more about QDROs and how they work, and to provide you with examples that demonstrate the importance of having a QDRO in a high net worth divorce. An Austin high asset divorce lawyer is here to assist you.

What Is a Qualified Domestic Relations Order in a High Asset Divorce?

What is a QDRO? The Employees Retirement System of Texas (ERS) explains that a QDRO is a legal order subsequent to a divorce or legal separation that splits and changes ownership of a retirement plan to give the divorced spouse his or her share of the assets. In order to qualify for a QDRO, the ERS’ General Counsel must receive a certified copy of the divorce decree, and the ERS’ General Counsel must review and approve the QDRO.

...

TX high asset divorceIn a high asset divorce, one of the most critical issues is the division of retirement accounts. When one spouse earns a pension during the course of a marriage, it is considered community property. This means any such pension is subject to division as part of the overall divorce proceedings.

Austin Court: Divorce Invalidated Previous Designation of Ex-Spouse as TRS Pension Beneficiary

Pension plans require a covered employee to designate a “beneficiary,” who will receive any remaining pension benefits upon the employee's death. Typically when an employee gets divorced, the court will issue Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDROs), which instructs the pension plan administrator on how to divide any accounts or benefits. A QDRO also serves to override any prior beneficiary designation that conflicts with its terms.

Even without a QDRO, however, the divorce itself may automatically revoke a prior designation of a now-former spouse as beneficiary. A recent decision from a state appeals court in Austin, Jones v. Teacher Retirement System, provides a helpful illustration of this rule. In this case, a former employee of Texas Tech passed away in 2015. He had a pension with the Texas Retirement System (TRS).

...

TX divorce lawyerWhile many divorcing couples go into the divorce process with the expectation that they may disagree on certain issues, such as who will retain the family home, many fail to remember that they will also need to determine how any retirement assets like 401(k) accounts will be divided. However, it’s important to take these types of unique assets into account when distributing assets, as they can play a crucial role in helping individuals become financially secure after their marriages are dissolved. For help understanding the complexities of dividing retirement accounts during your own divorce, please contact one of our dedicated Round Rock high asset divorce attorneys today.

Does the Account Qualify as Community Property?

How a 401(k) account is divided upon a couple’s divorce depends in large part on whether the funds in the account are characterized as community property or separate property. In most cases, 401(k) plans do not simply fall into one category or the other, as it is common for 401(k) plans to contain both types of property. This is because even if a 401(k) plan was started by one of the parties before a marriage took place, which would technically make it separate property, the interest in the plan that accrued during the course of the marriage will still qualify as community property, making it equitably divisible under Texas law.

Dividing the Account

Spouses who believe that they have a claim to the interest on a retirement plan will need to determine the amount of their share, which will be equal to the value of the plan at the time of the marriage (when it was considered separate property) minus the value of the plan at the time of divorce.

...

TX divorce lawyerOne of the most common points of contention in any divorce is how a couple’s assets will be divided upon dissolution of their marriage. Although most couples understand that this will involve dividing relatively common assets, such as bank accounts, the family home, and vehicles, it’s important to remember that more unusual property, like retirement accounts, will also need to be divided. In most cases, at least some of the contents of a retirement account are considered marital property, which means that they must be divided equitably between the spouses. While this could mean that each spouse receives an equal share of the benefits, this is not always true, as courts are generally guided by what would qualify as equitable distribution when making their decisions.

Whether your retirement account pays out on a regular basis or you can withdraw as you see fit depends in large part on the type of account in question and the contents of your Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). To learn more about dividing your own retirement account upon divorce, please contact a member of our high asset divorce legal team today.

What Is a Qualified Domestic Relations Order?

QDROs, or Qualified Domestic Relations Orders, are court orders that lay out the ground rules for how a retirement account will be used following a divorce, including how its contents will be divided. These documents are necessary for most types of retirement accounts, including 401(k)s and IRAs and are used to verify a person’s right to receive a portion of the benefits paid out of a retirement account. Basically, this means that QDROs are used to name a former spouse as an alternate payee upon divorce, even if he or she didn’t actually participate in the plan.

...

TX divorce lawyerDuring Texas divorces, a couple’s marital property is subject to division. In most cases, this means that divorcing spouses must grapple with who will retain a variety of assets ranging from houses and vehicles to financial assets, such as bank accounts and pensions. Of these types of assets, financial property is often the most difficult to divide. This is especially true for pensions, the status of which depends on when the pension was acquired and whether a pre-existing agreement is in place. For help determining whether your own pension qualifies as marital property and whether you can expect a portion of those payments upon divorce, please contact a member of our high asset divorce legal team today.

Community Property States

Texas is one of only nine community property jurisdictions, which means that almost all assets acquired by a couple during their marriage are considered to belong equally to both parties if they later decide to divorce. The assumption in most cases is that these assets will be divided 50/50 between the parties. This rule applies to physical property, such as real estate and personal possessions, as well as financial assets like retirement accounts and pensions.

Marital vs. Separate Property

In general, retirement assets earned during a marriage are treated as marital property, including:

...
Super Lawyers TBLS AV Martindale Avvo Top One Expert Top 10 Law Firm
Back to Top