Many investors have seen the stock market take a sharp dive in recent weeks. As economic uncertainty looms across the U.S., being in the market right now can be scary. That’s especially the case for those going through divorce. Many couples likely see their retirement and other assets going down dramatically. However, they should try to avoid making any rash decisions.
While it’s not always easy for spouses to predict what the markets could do in the next few months, or even weeks, they can take steps to protect their investments during the divorce process.
Asset division can be challenging in a volatile market
If one spouse owns a retirement account, they’ll want to make sure they get a pro-rata share of market gains. This means they could keep a larger percentage of their retirement assets as they grow. At the same time, the non-owning spouse will want to make sure that market losses only account for their portion of retirement savings. That way, they don’t lose a substantial part of their investments.
Avoiding burdensome tax consequences
Many couples know that if they try to withdraw from specific retirement accounts, they can face substantial tax penalties. However, there are ways couples can transfer funds from one account to the other without Uncle Sam getting in the way. If they’re looking to move these investments from a workplace retirement plan, they can do so by using a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO).
If couples have an independent retirement account (IRA) or a health savings account (HSA), financial institutions typically require a “transfer incident to divorce.” Some may even accept a copy of a couple’s separation decree.
Dividing investments can come with complexities
As the market changes, spouses going through a divorce should know that these conditions are likely temporary and can return to normal as things clear up. However, dealing with these transactions can be nerve-wracking and confusing. That’s why spouses may benefit from the help of a trusted legal partner. They can help couples jump through the hoops of splitting these complex assets so they can move on with their post-marital lives.