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Retirement funds and other property acquired prior to marriage is the separate property of the party who holds title to that property. Assets purchased with separate property can, in some cases, still be considered separate property, even if the purchase was after the marriage.

 

Does my spouse get half of my retirement account?

Most likely. In Oklahoma, “marital property” is divided “equitably.” This generally means that anything acquired during the marriage is divided 50-50. This includes the accrual of a pension benefit or 401K contributions and growth. Oklahoma law defines “marital property” or jointly acquired property, as property acquired by either spouse during the marriage with marital labor or funds earned during the marriage. It does not matter who holds title to the property.

Pensions and/or retirement funds are usually held in the name of the recipient only, and the spouse may be listed as a beneficiary of the plan. Oklahoma courts have consistently rejected the notion that if one spouse works and the other stays home, the working spouse should be entitled to the retirement plan in their name. It is not necessary for a pension plan to be vested for it to be considered marital property.

Pensions and retirement accounts can be divided two ways. Firstly, if the parties know the present-day value of the pension or retirement, the pension can be awarded to the employee spouse. The other spouse then receives an offset for the value through receipt of other marital property. This scenario only works if the parties have sufficient assets for the employee spouse to “buy out” the other spouse. The second way to divide a pension or retirement account is through the division of the pension/retirement account itself. This is usually accomplished through submitting a court order to the pension/retirement plan administrator detailing what percentage each party receives. The non-employee spouse receives the retirement benefits when the employee spouse becomes eligible for the benefit. If you believe your pension is in jeopardy, hire the best lawyer you can. Contact Carrie Luelling today!

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