You’ve worked hard for your career. You rely on your paycheck to pay your bills. A portion of your paycheck also contributes to your retirement fund. When the time comes, you will rely on your retirement plans to pay your bills.  Now that you and your spouse have decided to get a divorce, you worry about your financial stability and financial future.

As you divorce, you will need to divide your property and assets. It will be important for you to understand how your retirements fit in.

How are assets divided in Oklahoma?

Under Oklahoma law, property, debts and assets are divided equitably. This means that the assets and debts you acquired during marriage must be split between you and your spouse. While the term equitable sounds a lot like equal, what this really means is that items will be divided in a manner the courts deem to be fair. This will include those retirement benefits.

How are retirement benefits handled?

The way in which your benefits are divided depends on the type of accounts you and your spouse have. In many cases a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) is needed. A QDRO is a tool that employers and creditors will use to arrange the distribution of your accounts. This document also works to protect your interests.

The QDRO is used to transfer funds between you and your spouse’s accounts, and only works for IRS tax-qualified plans. These will mainly be retirement plans offered through your employer.

Military accounts, pensions, SEP assets and IRAs are handled a bit differently.

What else should you think about?

You will want to take steps to minimize taxes. Consider when you and your spouse started accumulating your retirement funds.  Regardless of the type of retirement accounts you have, it will be in your best interest to consult qualified legal counsel to ensure that you protect your funds.