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Retirement accounts can complicate your Washington divorce

Getting a divorce is often an emotionally tumultuous time. In addition to ending your primary relationship, you will have to deal with changes in your living situation, finances and even time with your children. The greater your overall assets, the more likely it is that you and your former spouse will argue about the right way to divide them.

In some cases, like savings accounts and your home, the division of assets can be straightforward. In other cases, such as military pensions and retirement accounts, the process of division can be more complicated.

There are a number of things that you should consider, including fees, fines for early withdrawal and even serious tax penalties. If you're planning to divorce in Washington state and have retirement accounts or pensions that are subject to division, you need an attorney. Finding the right attorney can make the ensure process simpler and can help protect your financial future. Whether your divorce is contentious or you're hoping to head to mediation, having an experienced divorce and family law attorney advocating for you can make a major difference to the outcome of your divorce.

Retirement accounts can be hard to accurately divide

The state of Washington has laws in place that make it an "equitable distribution" state. That means that all assets, including personal or individual property, may be eligible for division during the divorce proceedings. A number of factors contribute to how assets are divided, including the reason for the divorce, work and income history of both parties and even whether or not there is a history of spousal or child abuse in the family.

In general, however, the courts try to fairly divide both assets and debts, while ensuring that both spouses and all marital children have a fair and reasonable standard of living.

Retirement accounts and pensions are often subject to special fines, fees and taxes if there is an early withdrawal of funds. In cases of gray divorce, you or your former spouse may be old enough to withdraw funds without incurring penalties. In other cases, you may have to decide whether immediate dispersal of the funds is worth the amount that will be lost. It may benefit both parties to legally arrange for each spouse to receive a portion of the funds when the proper time comes for disbursement of the retirement account.

Your attorney can help with the fair division of assets

An attorney is your advocate during a divorce. He or she can help the courts understand which assets mean the most to you and what you consider a fair division. You will also get help negotiating in mediation to ensure that the outcome is fair to everyone.

Source: Nov. 30, -0001

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