Retirement accounts can often be a “hot button” issue for people going through a divorce. Many people feel that since they are the ones putting forth the effort to work for an employer, they should solely reap the rewards of the retirement monies they put away for their future. While understandable in a sense, the premise of sharing those retirement assets is that your marriage was a partnership that you embarked upon together and with a joint purpose and goal to build for your future together. Therefore, retirement assets that are acquired while you are married are part of equitable distribution, just like any other asset.
What is reassuring to most people is that the funds you put into your retirement accounts before you married your spouse are not subject to equitable distribution in New Jersey. Therefore, you have the right to exclude that portion of your retirement account that was accumulated before you said, “I Do.” The key here is proper record keeping, which may not always be possible if you are not anticipating a divorce in the future. Many times, employers will be able to assist in calculating the pre-marital portion of your retirement accounts but this may be complicated if the records need to go back further than your employer has retained records.
In those instances, it may take some creativity and ingenuity with your legal counsel to fashion a fair and equitable resolution of this issue on your behalf. Do not hesitate to contact a family law professional to further discuss any concerns you may have in this area. Posted by Elizabeth A. Calandrillo, Esq.