What Happens To My Pension And Retirement In My Divorce?

retiring to hammock

In a divorce the marital portion of the pension or retirement plan is going to be subject to valuation and equitable distribution.  The non-marital portion should not be subject to equitable distribution by the court. All vested and non vested pensions, retirement, profit sharing, thrift savings, annuities, or insurance acquired during the marriage constitute marital property.  Since only that part of the pension or retirement that accrued during the marriage is a marital asset a  court will look to see the premarital and post marital contributions and the increase in value that relates to each.

Often a Qualified Domestic Relations Order is entered which directs the administrator of a retirement plan to divide the retirement and award the marital portion to the plan holder’s spouse.

After the court has divided marital assets and debts in equitable distribution in can also consider a pension or retirement as a potential source of funds for an alimony award when performing its need and ability to pay analysis.

If you have questions regarding a retirement or pension in the context of your divorce please contact one of our lawyers on (786) 539-4935.

Should a Brokerage Account Funded with Inherited Money be Considered Marital?

In a Divorce case the court determines what assets and liabilities are marital and which are not and equitably divides the marital assets and liabilities. The Third District Court of Appeals entered an opinion in the case of Gromet v. Jensen reversing the trial court for its decision to consider three brokerage accounts funded with inherited money to be marital and subject to equitable distribution.

Of the three brokerage accounts, one had been established prior to the marriage and the two others that had been established during the marriage. All three had been funded by the Husband with money inherited from his mother. Inherited money usually starts of as being non-marital.

The Wife claimed that the brokerage accounts were marital because the Husband had deposited about $1,100 from the dissolution of a marital business into a brokerage account and because the Husband had expended marital efforts and labor in his management of the accounts such that any enhancement in value should be considered marital.

The Husband claimed that while he had managed the accounts during the marriage they had actually decreased in value because of trading losses and the use of funds to maintain the marital household. The Husband also testified that the had not deposited the $1,100 from the marital business into any of the three brokerage accounts having deposited it into a separate bank account.

The Third District Court of Appeals considered the testimony, evidence, and law in detail coming to the conclusion that the three brokerage accounts were not marital on the record before it. It reasoned that the Wife had not specified which brokerage account the $1,100 had been deposited into and did not have specific knowledge regarding the accounts such that the evidence before it was insufficient to find commingling had occurred based upon the vagueness of the Wife’s testimony and evidence concerning the deposit.

The Court then considered the Wife’s enhancement in value argument. The Court reasoned that while the Husband had actively managed the accounts during the marriage the Wife had failed to meet her burden to show an enhancement in their value had resulted from it, and that the evidence of record actually supported that they had decreased in value. Accordingly, the Wife was not entitled to any portion of the three accounts.

This case shows the importance of properly preparing for trial and presenting the right evidence to the trial court. Had a different record been established at trial through documents or testimony the outcome may have been completely different. For instance a bank record showing the deposit of the $1,100 into the initial brokerage account which was then used to fund the other two may have affected the court’s consideration of whether the accounts had become marital through commingling.

If you need to talk to a lawyer or attorney about your divorce, the division of assets and liabilities, the classification of marital and non-marital property, valuation under the law, and presenting the legal arguments and evidence to the court to support your position, contact our office to arrange a consultation on (786)539-4935

Divorce, Equitable Distribution, Court Must Identify Marital Or Nonmarital Status of Assets and Liabilities and Value Them

equitable distribution assets and liabilitiesIn a divorce case with assets and liabilities, the court must identify what assets and liabilities are marital and what are non-marital and then assign values to the assets and liabilities so they can be divided in equitable distribution.

Determining what is marital and what is non-marital generally starts with a determination of what assets and debts were obtained or incurred during the marriage.

There are however some exclusions from what is considered marital even where an asset was acquired during the marriage, for instance, non-interspousal gifts, income produced by nonmarital assets, or an inheritance.

Then a court must then decide if assets and debts that existed prior to the marriage have a marital component because of concepts like gifting, enhancement, and commingling.

The assets and liabilities are then valued and equitably divided by the court.

This is not necessarily an easy process involving both legal concepts and valuation issues so you will want a lawyer with experience in such issues to present the right legal concepts and values to the court.

If a court does not determine what is marital and what is nonmarital and value the assets and liabilities in its judgment a decision can be reversed.

For instance, in Buckalew v. Buckalew, the trial court had affirmed a General Magistrates written findings of fact that did not identify what assets and liabilities were marital and what were not.  Nor did it assign values to each asset and liability.  The Fourth District Court of Appeals for the State of Florida reversed the trial court’s decision to adopt the written findings because they did not state what was marital and what was not and assign a value to each asset and liability.

A decision can also be reversed if a court does not categorize what is marital or nonmarital correctly or uses inappropriate valuation methods.

If you are facing equitable distribution issues in your divorce case you need a divorce lawyer who can help identify the issues specific to your case and help you present your case to the court.  Call us for a consultation. (786) 539-4935