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What happens with retirement accounts in divorce?

In a divorce, you will have to divide your assets. This can be a complex process because it involves every asset you own and could have an impact on your retirement savings.

The Ohio State Bar Association explains that the court handles retirement accounts in the same way it handles other assets. Since Ohio uses the concept of equitable division, this means you will have to divide your retirement accounts between you and your spouse.


The court has a few options for dividing retirement accounts depending on what accounts you and your spouse each has. If you both have accounts, then the court will often divide them evenly between you, which could result in you or your spouse losing some value if you had more in your accounts.

Another option is that you could trade assets for your retirement accounts. For example, if you want to keep all of your retirement, you could offer your spouse an asset of value in exchange for keeping your accounts.

You also could transfer money between accounts to make them more equal in value. This might be possible if you have the same types of accounts and the law allows such transfers. It would still result in some loss for whoever has the larger retirement savings.


The court will need to come up with a value for your retirement accounts. It will do this by looking at statements. It may have to determine future value. You will likely have experts working with the court to determine the current value of your accounts to use for the purposes of division.

You will also have to separate out any contributions you made prior to the marriage because these contributions are separate property. This can, obviously, become complex, which is why financial experts usually will assist.