If your spouse has a retirement account and you’re getting divorced, do not overlook the fact that you may be owed a percentage of that account. This is true even if you are far too young to retire and your spouse won’t get the money for years. You can still have a court order divide the payments so that a portion goes to you when they do start being paid out.
This is done with a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). The order is legally enforceable and must be followed. Even if your ex is not pleased to share the money with you and considers it to be theirs alone, if the court determines that it’s a marital asset that needs to be divided, your ex has to do so.
How much will you get?
A lot of factors go into determining how much you will get. Overall, the biggest factor is how long you were married and if your spouse was earning the money in the account at that time.
For instance, the order may grant you an even 50% of the money in the retirement account that was earned during your marriage. Say that it takes 20 years for your ex to earn the entire account. They already worked at the company for 5 years before your marriage, and they will work there for 5 more after the divorce. If the total monthly payout was $4,000, you may be entitled to $1,000 per month. Your spouse earned half of the account during your marriage and you’re entitled to half of that amount, or a quarter of the total.
This is merely an example to show how it works and why a retirement fund is a valuable asset, so make sure you know the specifics of how it will work in your divorce case.