Georgia Divorce Guide: Division of Retirement in Georgia Divorce
This guide provides a general overview of how retirement accounts are divided pursuant to divorce in the state of Georgia. For information concerning how other types of property are divided in Georgia, please see my other legal guides or reach out to a Georgia attorney specializing in divorce law.
What retirement assets are divisible in a Georgia divorce?Only marital property is divisible in a Georgia divorce. Pensions, retirement benefits, and retirement accounts, whether vested or unvested, are generally considered to be marital property if they are acquired during the marriage, even if earned solely by the efforts of one spouse.
How are retirement assets divided in a Georgia divorce?Courts have wide discretion regarding how retirement will be divided. This means the spouse that earned the retirement assets could receive all, some, or none of the asset upon divorce.
The Court may consider various factors, including:
(1) the actual contributions made by the spouse who is not earning the retirement benefits, if any;
(2) the number of years of the marriage in which the contributions were made; and
(3) the degree to which a spouse has relied on the expectation of these future benefits.
What methods are used to divide retirement assets in Georgia?Once the Court decides to divide a retirement asset, the court may divide the retirement account between the spouses by percentages or by awarding a spouse a fixed amount. For example, a court may award Spouse A 60 percent of a retirement account and Spouse B 40 percent of the account. Alternatively, a court may award Spouse A a fixed amount of $30,000 from a $100,000 retirement account, while awarding spouse B the remaining $70,000.
It is important to note that while pensions, 401(k) plans, IRAs, profit sharing plans, and deferred compensation plans are all subject to equitable division, the method for dividing each is unique. For example, IRAs may be divided by rolling funds from the marital IRA into a separate IRA of the recipient spouse. On the other hand, 401(k)s and pension plans almost always require a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, commonly referred to as a *QDRO,* signed by the judge in order to be divided. Further, government and military retirement plans require specially formatted Retirement Division Orders.