It is often the case that spouses in Colorado and elsewhere hold a number of misconceptions concerning the property division process. One of the most common involves the access that both spouses have to retirement savings. This a topic that deserves close attention, since an unbalanced division of marital assets can have a number of negative consequences and can even prohibit an individual from retiring at the desired age.

When the bulk of retirement savings comes from the employment of one spouse, that spouse often feels as though he or she is the only party that should be able to retain those assets. In reality, however, retirement savings that were accumulated within a marriage are subject to division within divorce. The basis for this fact is the idea that the results of the joint effort of a married couple belongs to both spouses.

For example, even if one spouse has never worked outside of the home, it is still assumed that he or she has played a role in supporting the family. A husband or wife who has remained out of the workforce to care for a home and shared children has contributed to the success of the family, in the same way that the spouse who has functioned as the breadwinner. As such, both spouses are entitled to a share of the accumulated wealth.

Retirement savings are no exception and are part of the larger process of the division of marital assets. Spouses who are unsure of their rights in regard to their partners’ retirement accounts should gather documentation on the total value of those holdings. With this information in hand, a Colorado divorce attorney will be able to discuss the various ways that the assets might be divided.

Source: Forbes, “Divorcing Women: How Much Do You Know About Your Husband’s Retirement?“, Jeff Landers, July 29, 2015