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Are 401(k) plans negotiable divorce assets?

Divorces are never easy, and navigating the financial side alone can be a complex task. But when it comes to the financial negotiations, it is vitally important to keep a level head and do your research. In a high-asset divorce there is a lot at stake, and financial negotiations can become highly disputed.

This blog is a brief introduction about spousal rights to assets such as the 401(k) plan.

Know your rights

Your former spouse is likely to give you false information about what you are and are not entitled to from a financial perspective in divorce proceedings. That's why it's a must that you do your homework and get impartial legal advice. Generally, anything that you and your spouse acquired during your marriage is known as marital property. The only exceptions to this are:

  • Property owned prior to marriage by either spouse
  • Inheritance sums received from either spouse
  • A gift that either spouse received
  • A "pain and suffering" injury claim
  • Anything that was specifically designated in a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement

If the 401(k) plan was acquired during your marriage, there is no reason why it should not be marital property.

Watch out for illegal practices

In a high-asset divorce, it is surprisingly common for a spouse to partake in the illegal practice of hiding marital assets. This is not easy to catch and often requires the experience and knowledge of a divorce lawyer or accountant on your divorce team to dig into.

Legal advice

If you are going through high-asset divorce negotiations, an attorney can help you by ensuring the negotiations reflect what you want and what you part with.

Source: Forbes, "Divorcing Women: The Truth About Your Husband's 401(k) And Other Assets," Jeff Landers, accessed Aug. 01, 2017

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