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Yes, you will probably split your retirement account in a divorce

Deciding that a divorce is your best option for future happiness can lead to a large number of confusing complications. For example, you may find yourself worrying about your upcoming retirement and what impact your divorce could have on it.

While it is true that the older you are when you divorce, the less time you have to recover before retirement, you shouldn't let that stop you from pursuing your happiness in your golden years. However, you can avoid unnecessary heartbreak by accepting the reality of divorce, which includes the likelihood of splitting your pension or retirement with your ex.

Arizona has community property laws for asset division

Unless you and your ex agree to amicable terms in mediation or on your own that allow you to file for an uncontested divorce, or have a binding prenuptial agreement on record, most of your assets and debts will be subject to division.

The state generally considers anything you acquired during the marriage to be community property, meaning that both spouses have an ownership interest in it. That includes assets that you may feel are solely yours, such as your retirement or pension account through your employer.

Just because it is part of the benefit for your employment or in an account that is only in your name does not mean that your spouse isn't also entitled to some of that value. Their efforts around the home and support during your marriage helped make your employment possible and therefore entitle them to a share in the assets you acquired.

How will the courts split up your retirement account?

In general, Arizona family courts will do their best to find a fair and reasonable way to split up your assets. When it comes to financial assets like retirement accounts or pensions, there are many possible ways for them to handle those individual assets.

They could order you to split the account by having the plan administrator make a deposit into your ex's bank account. In the case of a pension, they could order you to pay a portion of that as spousal support for as long as you receive it. They could also look at the overall value of your retirement account or pension and allocate other assets with a similar value to your spouse.

Regardless of which approach the court takes, you should accept the fact that splitting the value of the account is the most likely outcome. However, in certain cases, such as very brief marriages or other special circumstances, the courts may take a less aggressive approach to asset division. Sitting down to talk about your situation with an Arizona family law attorney can help you plan for a positive divorce outcome.

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