Texas is a community property state. This means that anything you and your spouse purchase or acquire during your marriage is equally divided during a divorce.
This division of property can be detrimental in a divorce because it is difficult to protect your financial assets while you go through the process. Therefore, these are some tips to help you protect your retirement during a divorce.
Learn your state’s divorce laws
Many states are equitable distribution states, where a judge will divide the assets among the spouses equitably, but not always equally. However, Texas is a community property state, where the court divides all marital assets equally, not necessarily equitably. However, the assets subject to division are only those acquired during your marriage. Fortunately, a judge will not automatically divide your pension or retirement account without a specific request from your spouse.
Calculate your marital versus separate assets
Separate assets are all those that you acquired before you got married. They include every contribution to your retirement accounts and the interest they earned. These assets remain yours after your divorce. Any interest on or contributions to your retirement accounts after you got married are marital assets and subject to division.
Therefore, calculate your separate and marital assets. Include all your assets, not just your retirement. You should also calculate your spouse’s separate and marital assets because these may offset yours.
Check your retirement details
Some retirement plans allow for multiple distributions once they begin paying out. This may allow you to keep your retirement intact. You should also know whether your plan is a single- or joint-life payout or if you will receive monthly payments like an annuity.
If your retirement assets are significantly higher than your spouse’s, you may have to negotiate. You can offer your portion of other marital assets that are of similar or the same value, but consider taxes, penalties and growth over time in your negotiation.
Divorce has financial costs, but you can protect your future by securing your retirement assets.