I was a stay at home mom to my kids on Bainbridge Island. My kids are now grown and my husband wants a divorce. I never contributed to a retirement plan, but my husband has retirement accounts. I’m scared about the future—how can I protect my rights in a Bainbridge Island divorce?

You are right to be concerned. If your kids are grown then you may be rapidly approaching retirement age yourself and you may have relied on the accounts that your husband was funding to support you during your retirement years.

Washington State divorce law recognizes that both spouses may be entitled to retirement account money, even if only spouse was contributing to the accounts during the marriage. The law recognizes that you and your husband were a team and that you built a life together. Accordingly, retirement accounts—including the 401(k)—may be divided when a couple divorces.

You Have Options

Generally, there are two ways to divide retirement property during a Bainbridge Island divorce. You can buy out the account and then divide it into separate accounts or you can avoid taxes and penalties that hurt you both by entering a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO, often pronounced QUADRO). Once a QDRO is entered, you may have the right to leave the funds where they are and access them later, move the funds to an IRA rollover account, take out some of the money and roll over some of the money, or cash out.

You do not have to make these decisions on your own. Each of these options have different tax implications that you should talk about with your Bainbridge Island divorce lawyer. Please contact us today for a confidential consultation.

Molly B. Kenny's Bellevue family law office is conveniently located on Lake Bellevue Drive, making it easily accessible to those in the greater Seattle area. Our divorce and child custody lawyers help men and women get the information, guidance, and compassionate representation they need.
Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny