Equitable Distribution – Retirement Accounts

division of marital property

Florida Is An Equitable Distribution State

It’s no surprise that most individuals facing divorce in Florida are pretty clueless when it comes to the law. The sheer magnitude of the factors involved are far too complex for the average lay person to grasp, and until you’re forced to deal with your marriage ending; it’s not exactly something anyone wants to spend time thinking about. Unfortunately, one of the most prevalent sources of confusion is also one of the most important. The division of property in divorce.  Thankfully you have made the wildly intelligent decision to read this post and, like Kenny F***ing Powers, all the answers you’ve been searching for are on the verge of totally being answered.

When you’re young you see life as one big adventure. You’re able to party until the sun comes up and still make it to your morning shift at the local breakfast joint where you spend your days dreaming of a future consisting of traveling to exotic locales and fulfilling your aspirations to become a travel writer or fashion ingenue. You envision the love of your life (a knockout of course) by your side constantly inspiring you to be the best possible version of yourself and can’t wait for destiny to reveal them to you. You vow to yourself on a daily basis that you will never end up like the poor schmucks who frequent your tables; their eyes empty as they routinely complain to you about their boss who is the king of all jerk offs. No, not you. You are destined for more! Besides, your life plan is built around the principal that if you love what you do you’ll never work a day in your life. And then a little thing called reality comes knocking at your door.

child custody

Equitable Distribution Florida Rules Govern Division of Retirement Accounts

Of course you had the best intentions when you swept up that gorgeous co-ed in your Humanities class and, wanting to fulfill your promise to provide stability for your new life partner, you let go of the dreams you had and joined the rat race.  Fast forward a number of years and you can’t wait to spring out of bed in the morning (not that it matters since you’ve been awake for hours due to your sweetheart’s snoring brought on by the extra 20 lbs they’ve been lugging around) just to avoid the barrage of incessant nagging and discomfort that now dominates your lamentable existence. Knowing that the only place worse than the purgatory you have just escaped is the office; you find daily reprieve at the local breakfast joint. Except now you are overcome with the desire to shake the poor, young sap with the hopeful look in his eyes and reveal to him the misery that the future will undoubtedly bring him. Instead, you silently cringe when he rattles off his plans to start med school in the Fall so that he can one day work with Doctors Without Borders and laugh to yourself at the irony when he spouts out your once shared philosophy on being passionate about your chosen career.

divorce attorneyTrying to keep yourself from going over the edge you find comfort in knowing that at least, after decades of spending your days under appreciated at a job you can barely stomach, you have a sizable pension coming your way. You will be able to finally recapture some of the contentment you enjoyed in your youth and have gone as far as keeping a picture in your desk of the fishing boat you plan on rewarding yourself with for all your years of hard work. And then it happens. Your other half has gone to visit family for the weekend and you are finally able to enjoy some r&r at when the doorbell rings to reveal a pimply faced kid in tattered jeans with a badge around his neck letting you know you’ve been served with divorce papers. The heavens part and you fall to your knees, certain you must have been Honest Abe in a past life and karma has finally come to pay you a visit. 24 hours later you’re in the office of a family law attorney half listening to her explain the division of property in divorce, due to the sounds of harps and trumpets playing in your head of course, when something she says catches your attention. “Pardon me for interrupting, but did I just hear you say my soon to be lazy, good for nothing ex is entitled to half of my pension?” Oh yeah, about those good intentions…

As you know from previous posts,  the formula for the division of property in divorce,  as far as marital assets are concerned, is equitable distribution. This includes all vested and non-vested benefits, rights, and funds accrued during the marriage in retirement, pension, profit-sharing, annuity, deferred compensation and insurance plans and programs.  If you were pounding the pavement at your 9 to 5 long before heading down the aisle, not to worry.  Like all assets and liabilities, the aforementioned benefits must go through the analysis for equitable distribution and therefore, benefits that accrued before marriage are not classified as marital assets. Pension and retirement benefits are distributed like any other marital asset and it’s within the court’s discretion to choose the method of distribution which include the options of a deferred distribution or immediate offset. Most people take the deferred distribution take unless they’re countin like a clock on the wall or have some other property equal to half of the present value of the pension to fork over to their former soulmate in order to retain their entire pension. It’s also important to note that if you are the spouse looking to get your fair share of your beloved’s retirement accounts you might want to keep an eye on his or her spending habits. As previously discussed, the date of determination of marital assets for the purpose of a division of property in divorce is the date of filing. And if your former flame liquidated their pension, in absence of evidence that it was wrongfully depleted through misconduct, the court won’t distribute the value of the depleted account to the assignee.

equitable distribution florida

Equitable Distribution May Not Be As Simplistic As It Sounds

If you’re having a WTF moment reminiscent of the first time you saw the clip of the Suzy Kolber/Joe Namath interview, don’t get too down on yourself. A good divorce lawyer subscribes to 2Pac’s philosophy that although you may feel like this process is crazy and seems it’ll never let up, you’ve got to keep your head up.  After all,  when dealing with equitable distribution and divorce as a whole, you have to know things are gonna get easier and things will get brighter.







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