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Tips for protecting your investments in the case of a divorce

When it comes to retirement savings accounts, like a 401(k), people often want the best advice when it comes to protecting those assets in the case of a divorce. And while the first piece of advice would be to plan ahead and have a prenuptial agreement before even walking down the aisle, for those without a prenuptial agreement, there are still other options that may be available.

For those who are not yet married, now would be the time to think about a prenuptial agreement. And while some worry that these types of agreements are setting a marriage up for divorce, the truth is that a prenuptial agreement is merely a way to make sure that both spouses have their assets protected.

In these prenuptial agreements, it can be clearly stated how property would be divided, including 401(k) assets, in the case of a divorce. A person can choose to specify that all contributions are protected, or maybe have it so just the ones that were contributed before the marriage are separate property.

However, if you are thinking of divorce and do not have a prenuptial agreement, the first thing you will want to do is contact a family law attorney for advice on how to go about protecting your investment accounts.

Some advice may include stopping making contributions as soon as possible. The reason being that some divorces can take quite some time to be finalized, which would mean that some of the contributions could end up being considered marital property even though a couple was also separated.

Another option, depending on individual circumstances and state law, could be to really push for all of the pre-marital 401(k) funds to be excluded from division.

In the end, aside from making sure to discuss your financial concerns with a divorce attorney, you will also want to make sure to be holding on to all of your 401(k) records in order to prove how much the account was worth pre-marriage and how much was contributed during the marriage.

Source: Huffington Post, "Divorce Questions: How Do I Protect My 401k In A Divorce?" Emily McBurney, May 22, 2012

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