Will my spouse take my retirement savings when we divorce?

On Behalf of | Dec 18, 2023 | Family Law, High-Asset Divorce |

If you have been married for many years, you may have also contributed to a retirement account during that time and accumulated a large nest egg. You may be concerned about losing those assets if you and your spouse divorce.

Asset distribution

When deciding how to divide your assets in a divorce, the court will consider what is equitable to each party. This does not necessarily mean that your assets, including retirement accounts, will be split in half. Instead, the division is intended to be fair to both parties.

Retirement assets may include 401(k) accounts, pensions and individual retirement accounts (IRAs), for example. The court will consider the duration of the marriage, each spouse’s contributions to the marriage, both financial and non-financial, each spouse’s needs based on their age, health and earning capacity and whether there is a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement in place.

The court may issue a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO), which is a legal order that grants a portion of the benefits in a retirement plan to the receiving spouse.


Once the court approves a QDRO, it must be submitted to the retirement plan’s administrator and if it meets all of the requirements of the plan, the administrator will set up a transfer of a portion of the retirement assets to the receiving spouse’s account.

A QDRO can have tax implications, which is especially important to consider if you and your spouse have a high income or large net worth. The distribution of retirement assets may also affect your long-term financial planning strategy.