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PRESERVING YOUR ‘DISTRIBUTABLE’ ASSETS Requirements of the Law Subject to Negotiation?
In my nearly 20 years as a lawyer, I have had many clients ask, “Can I keep my retirement assets away from my spouse in the event of divorce?” The answer to this question is not straightforward. The law and general consensus among lawyers and judges is that this is a no-brainer! Like any other asset accumulated during the marriage, a retirement asset is a marital asset subject to equitable distribution.
and his claim for child support beyond the age of majority for one child because of a medical condition. Finally, the last issue that didn’t sit so well with my client was his wife’s claim for half of his military retirement as well as his survivor benefit plan, which, if she received it, would pay her half of the value of my client’s monthly retirement benefit for the rest of her life.
“THROUGH EXPERIENCE, INNOVATION, AND NEGOTIATION, WE CAN ACCOMPLISH RESULTS THAT WOULD BE IMPOSSIBLE TO OBTAIN AT TRIAL AFTER A CONTESTED HEARING.”
Recently, I worked with a client who is an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. He had been married to his ex-wife for 14 years, and throughout their marriage, he made consistent contributions to his retirement fund. When he and his wife decided to divorce, his retirement asset became the center of attention because it had been the parties’ most valuable asset aside from their four minor children. I won my client custody of his children at a temporary needs hearing, and then I secured custody of all four of his children for him on a permanent basis. The only issues left to be determined in the case were my client’s claim for past-due retroactive child support, his claim for regular child support,
So, is it possible to keep a substantial asset such as a party’s retirement assets out of reach of the other party during divorce proceedings when the law says these assets are to be split equally? Well, as goes the old cliché, anything is possible! For this particular client of mine, that possibility became a reality, and I saved him from having to give up approximately $1,800 per month of his retirement income to his former wife. What this amounts to is an annual savings to my client in the amount of $21,600 for the rest of his life and the ability to designate his second wife as beneficiary of his survivor benefit plan.
negotiation, we can accomplish results that would be impossible to obtain at trial after a contested hearing. The beautiful thing about this case is that, to him, my client gave up very little to get a lot. But just “a little” in his case was important enough to his wife to help us seal the deal.
One might ask, “How were you able achieve such a result?” Through experience, innovation, and
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