Once the reality of divorce sets in, your will probably start to look at all of the assets in a different light. Retirement accounts, such as 401(k) plans, are no exception.
Do you really have to split your retirement nest egg down the middle? The answer would depend on your unique circumstances.
When did you earn the money?
As explained on FindLaw, one of the first tasks in front of you will probably be classifying your 401(k). After all, you typically only need to divide assets that are part of the marital estate.
That means that the retirement savings you accrued before you got married could have some protection. For example, you could divide your account into premarital and marital sections.
What type of account do you have?
Depending on the type of retirement account you have, they might be special considerations that govern how you would want to divide it. It is important to include these types of details: The goal of property division during divorce is to give each side a fair deal, after all.
What else is in the marital estate?
There is another option that some couples use: You might be able to each keep your own 401(k). If you each have similar amounts in your retirement savings, you might be able to call it even, so to speak.
Even with a disparity, you might have options. For example, if there is a significant difference between your accounts, you might agree to divide other types of property in an unequal way in order to arrive at an equitable solution.
Of course, you might have financial concerns as well as legal ones when determining what exactly might be a fair division. For example, your 401(k) probably contains securities that fluctuate in value based on the market. Is substituting a different type of asset really the way to go? Again, it would all depend on the details of your case.