Division of Retirement Assets

Division of Retirement Assets

There are generally three types of retirement assets, one or more of which may be “in the pot” for equitable distribution: individual retirement accounts (IRAs), defined benefit plans (pensions) and defined contribution plans (savings plans). What ordinarily happens is that the marital portions of any of these plans are divided between the parties, although sometimes they are valued net of tax to use as an offset against another assets the non-participant in the plan wishes to keep. IRAs can be divided with a letter of instruction to the bank or other financial institution holding that asset. Pension and savings plans can be divided via a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) if they are qualified under ERISA, the federal law governing these types of plans. Non-qualified plans, such as from government employment, can be divided via a Domestic Relations Order (DRO). Essentially, both are Court Orders directing the plan administrator how that particular plan is to be divided between the parties. Ms. Copeland was one of the first attorneys in New Jersey to use QDROs and DROs and to lecture on this topic for the New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education. She has been retained as an expert by other attorneys to help resolve these issues.