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Ohio family law: splitting retirement accounts in divorce

When couples in Ohio choose to end their marriages, there are certain assets that some parties may believe are not subject to division. For example, retirement accounts. The account owner may believe that the money within the account is his or hers alone. This is not necessarily true. With assistance from a family law attorney, these funds can be accessed and divided in a way that does little damage to each party.

Accessing retirement funds before retirement age can have some serious consequences. Not splitting them the right way during divorce can result in one or both parties having to pay taxes and penalties. No one wants this.

Is a QDRO necessary? A domestic relations order is only necessary under certain circumstances. A retirement account can be accessed and divided with just a divorce decree as long as both parties invest the money back into an IRA. If the money is needed to pay child support, alimony, or is wanted by the other party for purposes other than investing back into a retirement account, then the funds cannot be accessed without a QDRO. If it is taken without this legal document, the penalties may be outrageous.

Splitting retirement accounts in divorce is a tricky business. Those in Ohio who are seeking marriage dissolution and would like to access these funds can do so successfully with a little help. Each party can turn to his or her family law attorney who will be able to file the necessary motions in court and seek a QDRO if it is required.

Source:, "How Divorce Affects Social Security and Retirement Accounts", Robert Powell, Dec. 15, 2017

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