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Are retirement accounts divisible in divorce?

| Jan 12, 2021 | Divorce |

When couples get divorced, they often come into the divorce with retirement accounts. One or both spouses may have accounts that are in their individual names. Wisconsin law determines how retirement accounts are divisible in divorce.

Can a spouse claim a retirement account in a divorce?

Many spouses think that if a retirement account is in their individual name, they are the only spouse who can receive the account in a divorce. However, that’s not the case in a divorce in Wisconsin. Instead, retirement accounts are divisible in divorce.

Wisconsin law operates with the presumption that retirement accounts are joint marital assets. Both parties have an equal standing to claim the asset. Wisconsin law generally divides assets evenly. That means that they must be valued accurately and then split between the parties.

Valuing a retirement account for divorce

One of the challenges that may arise when it comes to a retirement account in divorce is properly valuing the account. In the case of a pension, the parties may not know for sure what the pension may be worth at the time of retirement. They do not know exactly how much the parties stand to receive over time as the pension pays out. There are also questions of who to name as a surviving beneficiary and whether the individual who earns the pension may want to name another individual in the future.

All of these issues must be addressed as part of the divorce proceedings. It is very hard to reopen a divorce case after a judgment is complete. Understanding how retirement accounts are divisible in divorce ensures that the spouse can advocate for their rights and an equitable result in their case.