Jack Carney-DeBord | Profile for Jack's Law Office Blog

Informative posts about Divorce, Dissolution, Child Custody and Family Law.

How to Get More Retirement Money from Your Ex

How to Get More Retirement Money from Your Ex

Divorce can put an enormous emotional strain on people. This is because it frequently involves the splitting of assets, arguing over contentious points, custody battles, and more.

Also, divorces are often the emotional endpoint of conflict between two people that may have lasted for years or even decades!

So, by the time many people are wrapping up their divorces, they just want to end them as soon as possible. They want to stop having anything to do with their former partner, and to just move on with their lives.

This is understandable.

However, many people make a major mistake when they are concluding their divorce proceedings, and they walk out on money that they might be entitled to. But, rushing through a divorce just to get to the end as fast as possible can be a costly mistake.

What is the Extra Money That Many People Fail to Claim?

The extra money that many people fail to claim during the end of their divorce proceedings is retirement benefits. For many people, especially those who have 401ks, or other employer-sponsored retirement accounts, retirement assets is an enormous asset.

So, if you are getting a divorce, and if you do not claim the retirement benefits that you may be entitled to from your spouse’s work history, then you may be leaving hundreds of thousands of dollars--or even more---on the table. This amount of money can make a substantial difference for many people during their retirement years.

So, many people simply reach the end of their divorce settlement and then they walk away, rather than fighting to get the piece of their former spouse’s retirement asset that they are entitled to.

The Problem with Walking Away too Soon

While walking away as soon as you legally can may seem like a great way to relieve stress, it is actually not. This is because if you do not set yourself up correctly for retirement, then you could find yourself in a world of financial trouble when you hit your retirement years.

divorce walk away

This is especially true if your spouse was the primary breadwinner in the relationship and had an income that was significantly higher than yours.

The last thing that you want to do when you are seventy years old is to have to go back to your old job, or take a new job that you hate just because you rushed your divorce and did not get the retirement benefit that you were entitled to. You should be spending your retirement years relaxing, visiting your grandchildren, traveling, and sitting on beaches, not slaving away at your old job.

The Legal Fees Issue

Another reason why many people run away from divorce proceedings prematurely is that they are tired of paying lawyer fees and want to stop giving money to their divorce attorney as soon as possible. Some people even run away without ever paying the last bill!


However, despite the fact that you may think you are saving money by dodging a few legal fees, you are actually costing yourself potentially over one hundred thousand dollars or significantly more than that if you do not get the retirement benefit that you are entitled to from your spouse.

In other words, you could be sacrificing over a hundred thousand just to save a little on your legal fees. That makes no sense. It is essentially like throwing a briefcase full of cash into the ocean!

How to Avoid Missing Out on Retirement Money You’re Entitled To

The very first thing that you need to do in order to prevent missing out on the retirement money that you’re entitled to is to make a plan with your lawyer. Do not simply rush through the divorce agreement as fast as possible just so that you can run away from your ex.

You need to tell your lawyer that obtaining the retirement benefit is important to you and that you want to make an effort to get it.

After this, your lawyer will run through a checklist to make sure that you are entitled to receive retirement benefits from your ex. In order to qualify to receive social security benefits from your ex, you will have to meet the following criteria:

  • You must be at least 62 years old
  • You must be unmarried
  • Your spouse must be entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits

The Social Security benefits that you are entitled to on your own are less than what you would get from the benefits from your ex.

In addition to Social Security benefits, however, you are most likely also entitled to benefits from your spouse’s pension, 401k, or other retirement accounts. This is because the vast majority of these types of assets are considered to be joint assets for marital and divorce purposes.

This means that you are most likely entitled to a certain percentage of your husband or wife’s retirement accounts and pensions if you get divorced. This is very good news for the receiving spouse because it can make retirement significantly better with extra income from these accounts.

What is a QDRO Form?

A QDRO or “Qualified Domestic Relations Order” is a legal document that must be filed correctly in order for you to be able to receive the retirement benefits that you are entitled to from your spouse in the event of a divorce.

The QDRO is a highly complex legal document that is guided by both federal and state law. This document has many legal steps and requirements and must be done right to protect your interest.

If not done correctly or not done at all , then the only benefits you will be able to receive are Social Security benefits and Tier 1 Railroad Retirement benefits, if your spouse happened to work for the railroad. However, if you properly create, execute, file and serve the Plan Administrator, then someday (at retirement) you will receive your fair share.

You should not attempt to fill out the QDRO forms yourself. These forms involve a lot of legal terminology and can be rather complex. Instead, you should let your divorce attorney prepare these documents on your behalf.

How to Avoid Excessive Legal Fees When Trying to Get Retirement Benefits from Your Ex

If you are thinking that you are going to pay a ton of extra money in order to access retirement benefits from your ex, the good news is that you don’t have to.

Some divorce attorneys will charge by the hour for the extra time it takes to fill out the QDRO and take care of all of the necessary legal activity. If your attorney bills by the hour, then you could end up paying more than you would like. However, not all attorneys charge by the hour, some charge flat fees.

The Benefits of Flat Fees

Flat fees have a wide range of benefits.

These benefits will provide you with a much smoother and significantly less stressful divorce proceeding and or retirement division. Here is a brief rundown of all of the benefits of flat fees.

flat fee savings divorce

There is no mystery about how much you are going to have to pay your lawyer to get a divorce. Flat fees allow for maximum transparency and clarity and they make it much easier for you to understand the entire cost that is associated with your divorce or retirement division. Often times, we charge flat fees in phases. A typical divorce has three to five phases, each two to three months apart, generally. The post divorce work to do a QDRO is usually one fee.

It is significantly easier to plan the payments when you know exactly what you are going to owe. Once you know what you are going to owe, then you can plan to pay a certain amount every week until paid in full. Being able to make payments in installments based on a total that you already know is significantly easier and less stressful than paying your lawyer by the hour and never knowing exactly what you will owe until the hours are billed.

There are also no surprises. One of the things that people hate the most about going through divorce are the surprise fees that they end up having to pay because their lawyer did not give them an upfront flat fee for the total that will be owed. Here at Jack’s Law Office, we want to make things as easy and as straightforward for our clients as possible. Divorce is hard enough by itself without surprise fees. That is why we just give you one total fee at the beginning that covers everything. Our flat-fee structure minimizes your stress and makes the entire process much easier for you.

There are no loose ends. Because the flat fee covers everything involved with your divorce. With our flat fees, every single aspect of your divorce will be covered. You just pay the fee and you can rest assured, knowing that you are not going to have to return in several years’ time to deal with an aspect of your divorce that you. Loose ends are a major hassle to deal with and you are far better off not having any.

Selecting the Right Attorney

Whether you are just filing for divorce, or whether you are trying to get retirement benefits from your ex-spouse years after your divorce occurred, it is important to work with the right attorney. And experienced attorney can maximize the amount of retirement income you can get from your ex.

When you are looking for a family law attorney to help you win your benefits, there are a number of things that you should look for. First, the attorney should have a proven track record of success. The more success the attorney has had in the past in winning benefits, the better he or she is likely to do for you. Check their websites, look for testimonials.



See if the attorney would also charge a flat fee. Flat fees are extremely beneficial for clients and they are definitely the better option for you given all the benefits. Ask the attorney how much the total divorce will cost.

Additionally, the attorney should be able to provide you with all of the personal attention you need including answering any of your questions and taking the time to discuss all of the important aspects of your situation with you-without worrying about how many minutes or hours it takes....

Finally, the attorney needs to be someone you trust. Lawyers who charge flat fees can be a lot easier to trust, because at the very least, you will know exactly what the fee will be.

Conclusion

If you want to get the maximum possible spousal retirement benefits, then you must choose the right attorney. Jack Carney-DeBord is a lawyer with an incredible track record of success. He also charges a flat fee, provides his clients with all the personal attention that they need, and he is extremely trustworthy.

If you need an attorney to help you obtain your spousal retirement benefits, then Jack is the perfect choice for you.

Are you ready to get the benefits you deserve?

Call (740) 369-7567 to get started today.

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