Philadelphia Retirement & Pension Division Lawyer
Aside from the marital home, retirement and pension accounts may comprise the most valuable assets at stake in a Pennsylvania divorce. This is especially true when for cases involving long-term marriages and older spouses who have accumulated significant wealth as they look forward to retirement. Many assets that are subject to distribution in divorce are straightforward, but there are very specific legal concepts governing pensions. Not only must you address state property division laws, but you must also comply with federal regulations.
The Law Offices of Lauren H. Kane will support your needs in dealing with retirement assets, as our founder has more than 35 years of experience handling complex divorce cases. Please contact us to schedule a consultation with a Philadelphia retirement & pension division lawyer who will advise you on the laws. You might also benefit from reviewing some basics about dividing these assets in divorce cases.
Basics on Property Division in Pennsylvania
Retirement and pension accounts are assets covered by state divorce laws, so it is important to understand how the default rules work with respect to property division. Pennsylvania is an equitable distribution state for purposes of dividing up assets and debts in divorce, which refers to dividing things fairly instead of a strict 50-50 split.
However, before applying the principles of equitable distribution, it is necessary to first classify real estate and personal property. In one category is anything the parties owned before getting married; these separate assets belong to them, as do inheritances and gifts. The other category is marital assets, comprising any items the spouses acquire during the marriage. Only marital assets are subject to equitable distribution.
Application of Asset Division Laws to Retirement
Property division is relatively straightforward with respect to certain items, but pensions and retirement benefits can be tricky. While they are considered property, only the portion of an account that constitutes marital property will be equitably distributed. Some points are illustrative:
- When a spouse starts participating in a pension or retirement plan after getting married, the entire account balance is marital property.
- For accounts a spouse opened and began contributing to before marriage, the pre-wedding contributions are separate property.
- Even after determining the equitable distribution of marital assets, there are rules on dividing retirements and pensions. You will need a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) for employment plans and must pay attention to IRS regulations.
Legal Help with Pensions in Divorce
The description above reveals some of the complexities with retirement and pension division, but it is encouraging to know that there are multiple options for addressing the topic. There are advantages to working out an agreement, and parties can benefit from the mediation process to resolve disputes. If the parties cannot compromise, a contested hearing will be necessary.
The Law Offices of Lauren H. Kane will be at your side during settlement negotiations, and we have keen trial advocacy skills to fight on your behalf in court. A Pennsylvania retirement and pension division attorney will also help with the detailed tasks, such as:
- Working with financial professionals to assess account value;
- Obtaining a QDRO to put a division of pension and retirement into effect; and,
- Advising you on other requirements that may be necessary for your case.
Contact a Philadelphia Retirement and Pension Division Lawyer for More
You can count on the Law Offices of Lauren H. Kane for skilled legal representation with respect to all aspects of divorce, including the challenges with pension accounts. We will advocate on your behalf in settlement discussions and contested hearings, so please contact us to set up a consultation. A Philadelphia retirement and pension division lawyer can explain the relevant concepts after reviewing your circumstances.