After working hard to grow your 401(k) or IRA, you might understandably assume that the account is yours alone and that your spouse has no right to any of it when you divorce.
In North Carolina, this is untrue. Even if yours is the only name on the account, the law considers your retirement account marital property and should treat it like any other marital property in your divorce.
What makes my retirement account marital property?
With some exceptions, North Carolina law defines marital property as property you or your spouse acquire during your marriage. The statute specifically mentions retirement and pensions as examples of marital property.
Will my ex get half of my retirement account?
While your ex may have a legal claim on part of your retirement account, he or she will not necessarily receive an equal share.
North Carolina’s property division laws presume that the court will divide marital assets equally unless a 50/50 division is not equitable. The court must consider numerous factors, including income, financial obligations and the length of your marriage. If your spouse has a 401(k) or IRA of similar value to yours, the court might determine that you should both keep your accounts.
The court may not consider your entire account marital property if you established it before your marriage. If you have records that show the balance in your account at the time you married, your ex may not have a right to that portion of the account.
When it comes to your hard-earned retirement account, you should be aware of your rights and the laws surrounding marital property.