If charged with domestic violence in Michigan, your spouse may file for divorce. If this happens, we will need to tackle both issues. One major concern that my clients have when someone files for divorce against them is the state of their retirement accounts. To work so long, and so hard and to earn a nice retirement cushion then to see it go to another person can be quite stressful. Here are some typical questions and the answers.
How are retirement benefits divided in a Michigan divorce?In Michigan divorces, retirement benefits are usually the largest asset of a marriage, and can provide for both parties for the rest of their life. In Michigan every judgment of divorce must determine the rights of each party as it pertains to any vested pension or retirement benefit, any accumulated contributions in any pension, annuity, or retirement system, any unvested pension, annuity or retirement benefits.
Any vested retirement benefit accrued during the marriage must be considered with the property settlement in Michigan while unvested benefits don't necessarily need to be considered where it is considered "just and equitable" by the court. How much of my retirement plan is my spouse entitled to in a divorce in Michigan?In Michigan, a non-employee spouse is usually limited to the benefit of their spouse's retirement plan by the period of time, which the couple was married. If the employee had the plan before the marriage, a calculation will be conducted to see how much the plan has grown during the course of the marriage; this is not an easy process, and it is really a case-by-case calculation depending upon the type of plan, and the circumstances of the marriage as part of a Michigan divorce.
How are retirement benefits divided in a Michigan divorce case?In Michigan retirement benefits can be divided in two different ways. First, there is what is called the offset method, which isn't actually a division of the benefits, but gives the person non-employee spouse other assets of the marriage that are equal to the value/possible interest in the retirement benefits. The second method is called the deferred division method, which allows a domestic relations order to give the non-employee an actual interest in their spouse's retirement benefits as part of a Michigan divorce/
If there are no other sufficient or equal material assets, then method #2 might be a couple's only option. When a couple gets divorced in Michigan, and has to share in the benefits of a retirement plan, it could cause a lot of tension or conflict, which the parties would rather have behind them; this is where method #1 might be the better choice if possible.
In Michigan, retirement benefits under the deferred division method, can be broken into two different forms of payment. The benefits can be dispersed as a shared payment, meaning the actual benefit payments are divided as they are made, between both spouses, or as a separate payment, which essentially creates two distinct benefits for two separate participants. The type of method available in Michigan divorces is subject to the type of retirement plan, and the status of the plan at the time of the division.
In Michigan divorces, payments on retirement plans can also be periodic or lump-sum depending upon the plan, and the stage of the retirement benefit. A non-employee spouse may be able to call their own shots with disbursement or may have to adhere to the restrictions of the particular plan.
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