In yesterday's blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, we introduced the topic of retirement accounts and how the funds within them are divided in a divorce.
What if your spouse cashes out their retirement account before your divorce is finalized?
In addition to concerns regarding whether your spouse has a "secret" retirement account that you don't even know about, another concern that you may have is how your spouse can be trusted not to drain the retirement accounts that you are aware of. There are two ways that Texas courts will protect you from this sort of thing.
First of all, many Texas counties institute what is known as standing orders as soon as your divorce is filed. A copy of served along with your Original Petition for Divorce to your spouse. These orders are ground rules for your divorce that limit certain "bad" behaviors by you and your spouse.
One of the areas that the standing orders go into regard wasting community assets. This would include bank accounts and retirement funds. Your spouse is ordered not to engage in this sort of behavior right off the bat. If they do, there will be trouble at the courthouse if you bring it to the Judge's attention.
If, however, you live in Harris County, you will find that Standing Orders do not exist in your case. You and your attorney will have to file a Temporary Restraining Order along with your Petition for Divorce. That restraining order will last for a limited amount of time before a hearing on all issues contained in the restraining order. One issue would be barking you or your spouse from draining bank accounts or retirement funds.
Once you and your spouse have either settled on temporary orders outside of court or gone to see the Judge have him or her issue orders from the bench, there will be an enforceable set of rules that you and your spouse have to live by for the entire length of the divorce.
How does everything we've already discussed affect you and your spouse's retirement benefits?
You may be wondering at this point if we are ever going to get into the nuts and bolts of military retirement. That's a fair question to ask, but I can assure you that you've reached the point in our posts where that subject will now take center stage.
In yesterday's blog post, we discussed briefly that to be eligible for a portion of your spouse's military retirement benefits, you all needed to have been married for at least ten years.
Your ability to receive benefits as the spouse of a military member is based on how long your spouse was employed in the military during the time in which you two were married. Should you be named an eligible party to receive benefits, you would receive those directly from your spouse's retirement pay.
What if you want to keep your military retirement pay from going to your ex-spouse?
Suppose that the shoe is on the other foot, and you are the spouse who has earned military retirement benefits through your service to our nation. Now you have come to a time in your life where your spouse has filed for divorce, and you are trying to create a game plan and course of action to take.
One issue that immediately came to mind is your retirement benefits which are now becoming more substantial. It has not been a subject you've discussed at length with your spouse, and you are not even sure exactly how everything works. How can you proceed at this point to protect yourself and your benefits from being divided up by a judge?
The best and most obvious way to ensure that your benefits are kept out of your spouse's hands is never to see a judge in the first place. By this, I mean that you should do everything in your power to attempt to settle your case with your spouse before it gets to the point where a judge may have to intervene. If your spouse has retirement benefits that are community property and you do as well, an agreement to not touch each other's retirement benefits would make sense.
If your retirement benefits are not nearly equal, this could be a problem. If your benefits are more substantial, you may be in a position where allowing your spouse to receive a greater than fifty percent share of other community property could be in your best interest.
A vacation home, income from savings accounts, or nonretirement investments are frequently used "proxies" for retirement savings that allow a spouse to walk away with the equivalent amount of property without having to dig into your retirement plan.
Once awarded military retirement, how do you ensure the money goes to you as ordered?
A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) will need to be drafted and signed by the Judge in your case.
This is a separate document from your Final Decree of Divorce and places specific instructions to the plan administrator for the military retirement or another retirement that you are now entitled to. The administrator is to divide up the retirement according to the orders contained in the divorce decree.
Additional questions about Military Retirement? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC
If you face divorce and have questions, please contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, today. The information you learn can have a lasting impact on your case, your family, and you're well-being. A free-of-charge consultation with one of our licensed family law attorneys is only a phone call away.
We represent clients across southeast Texas and would be honored to speak to you about doing the same for you and your family.
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Other Articles you may be interested in:
- The division of military benefits in a Texas Divorce
- Military Divorces: Essential knowledge for Texas residents
- The United States Supreme Court Answers a Question about Military Retirement Benefits
- Military Divorces in Texas
- Essential Information for Military Divorces in Texas
- Military Support Without a Court Order During a Divorce in Texas
- How to Divorce a Spouse in the Military
- Texas Divorce - Serving Military Personnel or their Spouse Worldwide
- Texas Statute Aids Military Personnel and Their Spouses in Filing for Divorce
- Roadmap of Basic Divorce Procedure in Texas
- How Can I Get My Spouse to Pay My Attorney's Fees in a Texas Divorce?
- How am I going to Pay for My Texas Divorce?
- Should I Hide Money from my Spouse to Get Ready for my Texas Divorce?
Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston Texas Military Divorce Lawyer
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's essential to speak with a Houston, Texas, Military Divorce Lawyer right away to protect your rights.
A military divorce lawyer in Houston, TX, is skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, handles Military Divorce cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Spring, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, Houston, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County, and Waller County.