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How Retirement Plans Are Divided During a Divorce in Ohio

In Ohio, courts follow an equitable distribution model when dividing property for a divorce. This assigns the term “marital property” to any assets acquired or contributed to during the marriage. For assets like cars, houses, or jewelry, the division can be pretty straightforward. But also included in the definition of marital property are things like retirement plans, which can be much more challenging to separate fairly. Let’s look at the types of plans susceptible to division during a divorce and then answer some questions about how they’re valued and divided.

What Types of Retirement Plans Are Considered Marital Property?

The Supreme Court of Ohio has declared that all retirement plans, both private and public, will be considered marital property at the time of a divorce. This can include plans offered by employment, federal plans, state plans, or individual plans like a 401(k). Any contributions made to these plans during the marriage will be divided between the two parties.

How Are Retirement Plans Divided?

Retirement plans can be divided in a number of different ways. The division can be agreed upon by the spouses or court-ordered. If there are several retirement plans, the spouses might consider splitting each plan, so each spouse receives half. Alternatively, if each spouse has their own retirement plan, money can be transferred from one account to the other to equalize the two. This can be done using a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO), which is submitted to the account administrator. This ensures no penalties (on the part of the employee) are incurred from early withdrawal. Lastly, one person can keep their entire retirement account by giving up an equal value asset.

How Are Retirement Plans Valued?

Calculating the portion owed to your spouse from the amount accumulated during the marriage can be tricky. Typically, the account’s value at the start of the marriage is looked at against the value at the end. This works well for accounts based on invested funds but can be more difficult when discussing accounts with monthly payouts at the time of retirement. The testimony of a financial expert will likely be required to advise the court on the dollar amount of such plans, as well as what amount should be considered marital property.


If you have questions about the division of your marital assets in Ohio, call Garretson & Holcomb, LLC at (513) 863-6600.

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