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How Are Retirement Benefits Divided In a Louisiana Divorce?

Dividing pensions, IRAs, 401ks, and retirement plans in a Louisiana divorce

If you live in Louisiana, any retirement assets or pensions you accumulate while you’re married are considered marital property. They are subject to division in a divorce.

  • If you accumulated retirements funds or pension before marriage (or after the date of separation), those funds are considered separate property; they are likely not subject to division in a divorce

Louisiana is a community property state

Louisiana is one of nine community property states. In community property states, any property and debts two spouses incur during their marriage are generally split equally.

  • You may see the terms “community property” and “marital property” used interchangeably, especially depending on who you’re speaking to

Sometimes there are exceptions to the equal-split rule. It’s best to talk to a lawyer about the specifics of your case for more information, but some examples of these circumstances include when:

  • Spouses have certain legally binding agreements
  • Spouses are subject to a court ruling to the contrary of an equal split

Separate property in a divorce in Louisiana: the basics

Some of your retirement benefits may be considered separate property. The explanations above can help you get an idea of whether certain funds might be marital property or separate property.

If you have questions about your assets or retirement benefits, you can reach out to us to speak to a legal professional. Our team can help you determine what’s marital property and what’s separate property. 

Separate property is not subject to the division of assets. That means that it won’t be divided between you and your spouse during your divorce.

  • A claim of separate property can be invalidated
    • Property that’s commingled with marital property during marriage may have its claim of separate property invalidated
    • Questions about commingling with marital property? We can help

Can a lawyer help me find the value of my retirement accounts?

Can a lawyer help me find the value of my pension?

Yes! In fact, it’s a good idea to partner with a qualified attorney who can help you find the value of your retirement accounts in Louisiana.

It’s difficult to determine the exact value of a pension or retirement account. The process is usually complex. If you’re working with a divorce lawyer, he or she can help you complete that step of the process.

Are Vested Pensions Marital Property In Louisiana?

Yes. Vested pensions are marital property in Louisiana.

  • Pensions vest when all of the requirements to receive them are met

Unvested pensions are marital property in Louisiana, too

If someone has an unvested pension, that pension is also considered marital property under Louisiana law. Until the pension vests, however, the person the pension is maintained under only has an expectancy of interest in the pension.

Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDROs) In Louisiana

If spouses in Louisiana share in each others’ retirement or pension plan, they must complete a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO)

  • A QDRO is a written set of instructions that’s given to a plan administrator
  • The instructions include the terms and conditions of how two parties are dividing pension benefits 
  • The instructions also include details like how much of the benefits should be paid to each party, when the benefits should be paid, how the benefits should be paid, and so on

Do I Need a QDRO In Louisiana?

How do I know if I need a QDRO?

If a pension plan will be part of your divorce settlement, you need a QDRO. This includes divorce settlements that involve defined benefit and defined contribution plans. Both need QDROs in place in order to allow distribution to parties other than the employees who earned the benefits.

  • Defined benefit plans include traditional pensions with monthly payments, specific benefits paid at retirements, and benefits paid at other qualifying events
  • Defined contribution plans include individual retirement savings accounts, like 401(k)s

More Questions We Frequently Answer About Dividing Retirement Benefits In a Louisiana Divorce

Short on time? See if we answered your questions about divorce in Louisiana faster here

Are my retirement benefits community property in Louisiana?

Yes. Retirement benefits, including DROP or IBO funds, are community property.

Will my retirement benefits be split equally when I divorce in Louisiana?

Yes– but only the retirement benefits that you accumulated while you were married.

  • The retirement benefits you accumulate while you are married are community property; usually, they are split equally in a divorce (you can ask a lawyer about exceptions)
  • Retirement benefits that you accumulate before marriage or after your date of separation are separate property
    • These are usually not subject to division

Who can file for divorce in Louisiana?

Anybody who has been a resident of Louisiana for at least one year can file for a divorce.

Can Louisiana residents file for a divorce if they live out of state?

Yes– as long as you have maintained legal residency.

  • One spouse must file the “Petition for Divorce” in the parish (1) where either spouse resides or (2) where the couple last lived together
    • The Petition for Divorce is legal paperwork you complete to request a divorce in Louisiana

What If I Got Promoted After My Divorce In Louisiana?

I was promoted after my divorce; how will my pension be divided?

If your circumstances include something like a post-divorce promotion or some other unique situation, it’s in your best interest to talk to a qualified divorce lawyer. These situations usually involve issues like whether the promotion was granted as a matter of course or procedure, or it was granted due to the extraordinary skill and effort of the party after divorce

  • The short answer? It’s complicated. You should talk to a lawyer about your unique circumstances 

Betsy A. Fischer, LLC: Family Law Services In Jefferson Parish and Orleans Parish

Our team also handles cases in St. Tammany Parish, St. Charles Parish, and other surrounding areas

If you have questions about dividing retirement benefits in a Louisiana Divorce, our team may be able to help. Reach out to Betsy A. Fischer, LLC via the web or over the phone at 504-780-8232 today. We handle:

  • Divorce
  • Custody
  • Child support
  • Community property
  • Other family law matters

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