How to Uncover a Spouse's Retirement Funds During a Divorce

Jodee Redmond
egg and dollar sign

If you are ending your marriage, you may be wondering how to uncover a spouse's retirement funds during a divorce to ensure that they are included in the division of marital property.

Marital Property Division Basics

When a couple separates, the assets that they accumulated during the marriage will be divided between them. If the couple lives in a community property state, any marital property is divided equally between them.

Dividing the property doesn't necessarily mean that the assets are sold and the proceeds are split between the divorcing spouses. The couple could work out an agreement between them or the court may order that one person retain ownership of a particular asset and the other is given an equivalent amount in cash.

In states where division of marital property is done equitably, the rules are different. The property is divided in a manner that is considered fair. It's possible for one person to leave the marriage with a larger share of the marital property than the other.

How to Uncover a Spouse's Retirement Funds During a Divorce

If you are thinking about getting a divorce, you have the advantage when it comes to finding hidden assets. You can take some time to go through financial records to make sure there are not red flags that point to your spouse having any hidden assets, including retirement funds.

You and your attorney should be given copies of your spouse's financial records after the divorce action has started during the discovery process. This is the part of the divorce proceedings where each attorney requests financial records from the other. Your spouse will be compelled to turn over his or her assets and pension.

Once these records have been turned over, go over them very carefully. You are looking to piece together a trail of where money went. Look for withdrawals from bank accounts, especially amounts regularly debited from the account.

Income Tax Returns

Reviewing income tax returns for prior years is another strategy if you are wondering how to uncover a spouse's retirement funds during a divorce. Your spouse's W-2 will list contributions made to a company pension plan or a 401K.

For a person who is self-employed, Schedule C on your joint income tax return will reveal the amount of contributions, if any, made to a retirement plan. This will alert you and your attorney to the fact that there are funds on deposit somewhere. Your attorney can then subpoena the records so that you can find out where the money is being held and how much is in the account.

If You Suspect Your Spouse is Hiding Assets

Unless you are confident that your spouse has revealed all of his or her retirement funds, don't agree to the terms of a proposed divorce settlement. Instead, make sure you are represented by an attorney who will make sure that all relevant records are turned over so that you and your spouse can work out a property settlement that accounts for all marital assets.

How to Uncover a Spouse's Retirement Funds During a Divorce