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Are Retirement Accounts Marital Assets in South Carolina?

Posted by J. Benjamin Stevens | Sep 20, 2015 | 0 Comments

When a couple goes through a separation or divorce, often one of the largest categories of assets they have are retirement and other employment benefits. Pensions, 401(k)s, IRAs, and other retirement plans can be worth a substantial amount of money, and they are also often crucial to securing your financial future. As a result, it's important to understand what types of accounts are and are not considered marital property.

So, are retirement accounts marital assets in South Carolina? The short answer is “yes”, employment benefits are considered marital property. This is true even for those benefits that are titled only in the name of one spouse, something that often confuses people. Just because your name appears alone on your retirement account doesn't mean it is guaranteed to be your separate (non-marital) property.

This rule of treating employment benefits as joint property applies to pensions, 401(k)s, IRAs, retirement funds, stock options, and even bonus payments. Virtually any and every kind of retirement vehicle can be divided in a divorce and is treated as marital property.

Are there any exceptions? Yes, but they are generally straight forward and easy to understand. Though employment benefits are generally marital property, this rule only applies to money accrued during the course of the marriage. The amount of retirement funds accumulated prior to the start of the marriage are typically considered to be separate (non-marital) property and is therefore not included when the marital assets and debts are divided.

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J. Benjamin Stevens

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