Carroll County Maryland Divorce Retirements as Marital Property

Retirements, IRA’s, 401k’s, 403b’s and Pensions are all marital property and as such a judge can redistribute those funds in a Carroll County Maryland Divorce.  (Even if a spouse removed the money)

In a Mount Airy and Westminster Maryland, divorce retirements or pension entitlements are marital property just like tangible items or savings accounts.  A pension is sometimes known as a defined benefit plan. That is a program or fringe benefit whereby a company or employer promises now to pay you money later when you retire.  Some companies in Westminster and throughout the State of Maryland offer it to their employees for free, some contribute to such a plan with an outside provider and some people purchase them independently.  That is called an annuity.

Other retirement funds are like a savings account in Taneytown Bank which people can contribute to and sometimes employers match those contributions.  Some examples of those accounts are with Union Bridge Credit Union Ira’s 401ks 403bs etc. Some of these accounts are not linked to employment and people contribute to them independently like like a savings account.

In all of the above plans people generally do not pay taxes upon the money the contribute and it is taxed when/if they take it out.  Some plans in Westminster and throughout the State permit people to borrow against the retirement funds tax free and pay themselves back.  This permits employees and participants in Taneytown to use of the money without paying the taxes or losing the money over time.

All of these retirement accounts and retirement benefits are marital property just like a car, a savings account or any other tangible asset of value.  The funds can be at banks and institutions in Carroll County or throughout the State.  As such, they are subject to valuation and distribution (Irrespective of title) by a Maryland circuit court judge as part of of a Maryland divorce.

Valuation of Marital Pension and Retirement accounts is necessary before the judge can make a distribution by dollars or by percentage.

Previously we discussed how pension, retirement, 401k etc were money and as such, were subject to being deemed marital property in a Maryland Divorce.

So let’s look at an accounts valuation.  Take for example an IRA in Mount Airy, Maryland.  If the retirement in question is like this or one of the 401ks type variety, it’s pretty much done for you.  The dollars are the dollars.  The Mount Airy account shows 10K, it is 10K.  In a pension of the “promise to pay” type, like a union benefit at a plant in Taneytown, it becomes harder but it is possible.  Yet, certain types of financial experts can be hired to put a “present value on one pension that will not be paid until the future.  For example if if a 50 year old participant in Westminster expects to receive 1200 per month in defined benefit at age 65 the current value might might be $ 200000.00.  I really have no idea that was just an example and could be in any city.

Once the valuation has been determined, the amount/percentage of the money which represents “marital property” is an issue.  The amount of interest and contributions which are “marital property” is the amount acquired during the marriage.  A Circuit Court Judge in a Westminster divorce has the authority to declare how much is, and is not, marital property.

The judge in a Carroll County Maryland divorce case can award any % of that marital property to the other spouse.  It can range from 100% to zero.  Yet for our purposes let us assume the judge will give each spouse half.  Half to the wife in New Midway and half to the husband in Taneytown.  The money can be distributed two ways.

How the Retirement Assets get distributed in a Maryland Divorce can be on a paycheck by paycheck balance or via a lump sum.

First and most commonly, the Carroll County Divorce Judge will issue an order called called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO).  The QDRO is given to the provider who then pays one half of the balance of the (participant) spouse’s fund to the other spouse (called the non participant spouse ).  This is done by a check or by rollover to another 401k type account.

The second means of the distribution is more common for the defined benefit type of plans.  This means is called an “if, as and when” distribution.  The judge issues issues a QDRO that directs the plan to pay a monthly check to both spouses.  Each month the participant spouse gets paid the other spouse gets paid too.  

For example if the gross monthly marital distribution to the retiree in Union Bridge is $3300 per month and he was married to a woman for 100% of that time, she gets a monthly check for $1500 in Taneytown and he gets a separate check for $1500 (½) the marital share.

Tim Conlon Esquire at

The Divorce Place


322 West Patrick St, #101 Frederick Maryland 21701

240 575-9298

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