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How to fairly divide retirement accounts in a divorce

The process of dividing assets is one of the most complicated parts of getting divorced. You and your former spouse will probably not agree on what is fair and who should get what. The greater the overall value of your assets, the more likely it is that you won't be able to agree without the intervention of the courts. Divorce in Rhode Island looks at all the assets acquired during your marriage, which are called marital assets. From your house and furniture to vehicles and retirement accounts, all assets will get compiled into a list for the courts, who must then decide how to divide them.

Who earned more money during the marriage won't factor into the asset division process. The courts recognize the fact that unpaid work, such as child care, cleaning, cooking and even emotional support of the working spouse are all critical to the process of accruing substantial assets. The courts generally consider the non-working spouse as entitled to a fair share of all assets, from the equity built into the home to the retirement account. Just because you didn't contribute to the account from a paycheck doesn't mean you didn't help contribute to the financial development of your marital assets.

It doesn't matter whose name is on the accounts

Rhode Island is an equitable division state. The courts will look at all assets acquired during the marriage and do their best to divide those assets (and any debts) fairly between spouses. Fairly doesn't always mean a 50/50 split. Concerns like earning potential and who has custody of the minor children will also factor into this process. When it comes to retirement accounts, any amount accrued during the marriage will likely get split between both spouses. The courts won't care whose name is on the account. All that matters is how much got deposited during the years of marriage.

Assets deposited before marriage may be exempt from division, as will any interest on those earlier deposits. Whatever was invested or deposited during the marriage will get considered as marital property and subject to division during divorce. Once the courts issue a divorce decree that includes dividing the retirement account, you will be able to make withdrawals from accounts such as Roth IRAs or 401Ks without incurring financial penalties, extra taxes or fines.

The right attorney matters in a high asset divorce

Getting a fair outcome to a divorce isn't always a given. That's why it's important to secure the help and advice of an experienced Rhode Island divorce and family law attorney as soon as you know divorce is imminent. Your attorney can help you with every step of the process, from listing assets to fighting for your fair share in court.

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Rioles Law Offices
426 Broadway
Providence, RI 02909

Toll Free: 800-836-8278
Phone: 401-680-9686
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