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What happens to retirement during a New Jersey divorce?

On Behalf of | Feb 5, 2023 | Family Law

Property division is a main point of interest, and often contention, in a divorce. One primary concern in many contested divorces is what happens to retirement accounts or pensions.

Individuals work hard to prepare for life after leaving the workforce, so they naturally experience a great deal of worry about the money they stash away for it. How courts regard retirement depends on the answers to a couple of questions.

When did the acquisition of the retirement account or pension place take place?

New Jersey is an equitable distribution state. This means that courts use the concept of “fairness” to determine how to divide a divorcing couple’s possessions and funds. Only property that falls under the umbrella of marital property enters consideration.

Like other assets, whether or not the courts view a retirement account or pension as distributable depends on its classification. If it existed before the marriage, it is separate property and not in this category. If the individual obtained it after the union, it qualifies as marital property, making it subject to division.

Did the owner add the name of the spouse to the account?

Adding the name of a spouse to an account makes it marital property. This applies even if an individual owned it before the marriage because by adding the name, the owner made it part of the former couple’s shared finances.

The actual division of retirement accounts and pensions depends on what kind they are. The law sees them as a form of property that can be subject to division in a divorce if they are post-marriage assets.


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