The Division of Retirement Accounts in a Divorce Proceeding
Pursuant to section 3105.171 of the Ohio Revised Code, the retirement benefits of either party in a domestic relations proceeding are a marital asset and subject to division by the court. Therefore, the domestic relations court has the responsibility to equitably divide retirement benefits like any other marital asset in a divorce proceeding. A Qualified Domestic Relations Order is the mechanism by which the retirement accounts are divided. A Qualified Domestic Relations Order is prepared and filed with the Court and the Plan Administrator of the retirement plan is ordered to pay the former spouse their marital share of the retirement account. If the retirement account is a defined contribution plan, i.e., a 401(k) plan, the funds can be acquired immediately. If the retirement account is a defined benefit plan, the former spouse will be able to acquire the funds after the ex-spouse becomes eligible to receive the benefits. The former spouse’s right to receive these retirement benefits will continue during his or her lifetime and will not terminate upon remarriage.
Some retirement funds are not subject to division. Those funds that were earned prior the marriage are not subject to the Qualified Domestic Relations Order. Only that portion of the retirement account that was accumulated during the marriage is subject to division. If a party was contributing to a retirement account before the marriage, those premarital contributions are not part of the equation. Also, contributions made to the retirement account after the domestic relations matter is final are also not part of the equation.
If you have any questions or comments regarding the division of pension benefits in a divorce proceeding, please feel free to contact the law office of Gallon, Takacs, Boissoneault & Schaffer at (419) 843-2001