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Retirement assets should be analyzed in divorces

When a marriage goes south, Florida couples may want to rush through the divorce process so they can begin their new lives. But waiting to cross all the t's and dot the i's could save them money, especially if they have retirement accounts.

A qualified domestic relations order divides up retirement assets such as 401(k) plans. Divorcing spouses need to make sure such an order is in their best interest. Just because a couple agrees to a plan to divide retirement assets doesn't mean the agreement is fair or equitable. They may have failed to take tax implications into account and this could cost them money.

They may need a financial analyst to look at the couple's financial situation and determine what is in their best interest, allowing them to make the best decision. Some states require retirement assets to be split evenly in property division, but this is not the case in equitable distribution states like Florida.

For example, a couple may decide one spouse gets the house and the other the retirement account. This may look favorable to the spouse who gets the retirement account, but the recipient may have to pay taxes and penalties on the withdrawal if under 59-1/2 years old.

The end of a marriage can be complicated. In high asset divorces, property division takes on added importance. A divorcing spouse may want to ask a divorce lawyer for a referral to a financial analyst for assistance. By working as a team, the attorney and the financial analyst can work out the best solution for their client.

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