For many people going through divorce, retirement assets are an important consideration. When spouses file for divorce, their retirement assets are considered property assets. The division of the retirement assets may financially impact both spouses. It can cause an increase in the amount of money coming in, which in turn influences taxes.
What are retirement assets?
Retirement assets are retirement accounts or plans that add financial value to a person’s retirement funds. The types of retirement assets include 401(k) plans, individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and pension plans. The purpose of the plans or accounts is to grow the retirement funds. Employees may have retirement accounts and plans through their employment. Individuals may also open retirement accounts and plans on their own outside of their job.
Separate property and community property
Property owned by a spouse held individually or jointly may fall into separate property or community property. During a divorce, spouses must submit a list of their assets. Under Oregon law, retirement accounts and plans are considered property. The court must then determine if the retirement assets belong solely to the spouse whose name is on the assets or if the spouses must split the assets.
Separate property is a property that a spouse acquired before the marriage, through inheritance, by bequest or as a gift. Each spouse keeps the property that the court deems is separate property. Community property is all other property acquired during the marriage, which may be in one or both spouses’ names. A court determines the distribution of property labeled as community property using some factors as guides outlined in the Oregon domestic relation laws.
Dividing retirement assets
Oregon is an equitable distribution state. Therefore, the distribution of community property is based on what is just and fair. The division may not be 50/50; one spouse may receive significantly more than the other spouse. The court determines what portion of the retirement assets are separate property and awards those assets to the spouse who owns the retirement account or plan. The portion of the retirement assets designated as community property is divided between the spouses. The court then orders the other spouse to receive their share as an alternate payee of the retirement benefits.