Whether you’ve been married for the majority of your life or only for a few years, divorce is never easy. It is very likely that you and your spouse do not agree about a fair way to split up your assets. Unless you have a prenuptial agreement on record or can work through mediation to find agreeable terms, the courts will likely end up deciding how to split your assets.

In Florida, the general standard for asset division is equitable distribution. The courts will look at the circumstances of your marriage, as well as other factors, and do their best to divide assets and debts acquired during your marriage in a manner that is fair and equitable to both parties.

Even if the account is in your name, your retirement funds are likely marital property

In order to decide who gets what, the courts look at an inventory you provide of all the assets and debts from your marriage. They are less concerned with who earned what then with when you acquired assets.

In other words, any deposits into your retirement fund or pension from during your marriage are likely subject to division. Even if your spouse never worked, he or she probably has a claim to some of your retirement fund. Deposits or contributions from your employer prior to your marriage may remain separate property, but anything accrued during your marriage will end up divided.

Pension accounts may impact spousal support

When one spouse has significantly higher income and earning potential than the others, it is possible for the Florida courts to order the higher-earning spouse to pay ongoing support for the other, which is commonly called alimony or spousal support.

Many times, instead of simply splitting the value of a pension account, the courts will consider assigning spousal support when the pension disperses. That means that once you start receiving pension payments, a portion of that will go to your ex.

You don’t have to worry about early withdrawal fees in a divorce

A common concern among people facing a divorce with retirement accounts is the potential for financial penalties. After all, 401K, Roth IRAs and other accounts often have substantial penalties, including taxes, built-in to the disbursement process.

If you attempt to withdraw funds before retirement age, you can end up paying a lot in penalties and fees. Thankfully, so long as the division of your retirement account results from a court order, you don’t have to worry about those costs. the courts will issue a special order to have the plan manager who handles your retirement account divide the account appropriately between you and your spouse.

Splitting your retirement account means that you will have less available to you when it comes time to retire. You may need to rethink your investment strategy or change your retirement plans accordingly.