The process used to divide retirement accounts varies according to whether the case goes to court, or there is a settlement out of court.
Courts will use what is called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO), which essentially determines the "marital share" of the retirement account by looking at the number of years the retirement account was accruing during the marriage, as well as the sum total of the value of the account. It's a pretty straightforward calculation.
Outside of court, there is more room for compromise. For instance, if one spouse decides that she would like to waive her due portion of her husband's retirement account in order to receive assets more valuable to her, that can happen in a negotiation meeting, (unlike a courtroom).
Negotiating outside of court allows for flexibility in terms of individual preferences and alternative arrangements. At Smith Strong, we seek to negotiate cases out of court as much as possible, in order to achieve a tailor-made outcome for you. Call us today at 804-325-1245 (Richmond), or 757-941-4298 (Williamsburg).