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Can your ex lay claim to your retirement account in a divorce?

Aggressively saving for retirement is important, as the money you set aside while you work will later help ensure your standard of living after your retirement. You may have spent decades taking a portion of your weekly paycheck and setting it aside to support yourself when you later retire.

The account that you have is in your name, possibly managed by your employer as a job benefit. Will you need to divide your retirement savings with your ex in a North Carolina divorce?

Retirement savings are often at risk

Some people jump to the conclusion that their retirement account is their separate property because it is only in their name or managed by their employer. However, under the North Carolina approach to property division, it is not the name on the account that matters the most but rather when you made contributions to the account.

The amount that you contributed to the account during your marriage and even any employer matching contributions are at risk of division in your divorce proceedings. Unless you signed a marital agreement with your spouse setting the retirement account aside as your separate property, they can ask the court to consider the amount added to the account during your marriage for property division purposes. Your ex may receive a significant portion of the account or have a claim to other valuable property because you keep the retirement accounts.

Learning more about the property division rules that apply in North Carolina divorces will help you create realistic expectations and better advocate for yourself if you negotiate a settlement with your spouse.