In 2016, people going through a divorce paid $15,000 on average to complete the process. For some Pennsylvania residents, it may seem tempting to use retirement savings to cover that cost. However, doing so may result in income taxes owed and a 10 percent penalty for an early withdrawal if it is done without an order from a judge.
It may be possible for a couple to agree that their retirement savings should be kept intact until after the divorce takes place. It is also important to understand that dividing a retirement account as part of the property division process requires patience and attention to detail. First, the value of the accounts themselves must be determined. This can generally be done by reviewing plan summaries or other documents that have current account balances listed on them.
How assets are divided depends on the type of account being split up in the divorce. If the account is a 401(k) or other qualified employer plan, it must be split using a QDRO that allows money to be transferred into a new account. If the account is an IRA, it will be split incident to the divorce. This means that a transfer between spouses can take place up to one year after the divorce has been finalized.
Those who are involved in a complex divorce may need the help of several professionals. In addition to an attorney, it may be necessary to have the advice of a financial adviser. An attorney who has this type of family law experience can often make recommendations in this regard.