How Are Retirement Accounts Divided In A Missouri Divorce?

Going through a divorce can be an emotionally and financially draining process. Property division is a key aspect of any divorce settlement, and this includes the division of retirement accounts. Retirement accounts are often significant assets that may be divided between spouses during a divorce. In the state of Missouri, retirement accounts are divided according to the principles of equitable distribution. In this article, we will explore how retirement accounts are divided in a Missouri divorce and discuss the different types of retirement accounts, the process of division, and the tax implications involved.

Types of Retirement Accounts

To understand how retirement accounts are divided, it is vital to have knowledge about the various types of retirement accounts. The two primary types are defined contribution plans and defined benefit plans.

Defined Contribution Plans

Defined contribution plans are accounts funded by the employee, with potential contributions from employers in some cases. Among the most common types of defined contribution plans is the 401(k) plan. Through this plan, employees contribute a portion of their salary, which is then invested in diverse securities. Over time, the account balance grows, and the funds become accessible to the employee after reaching retirement age.

Defined Benefit Plans

On the other hand, defined benefit plans refer to pensions that provide retirees with a predetermined monthly payment. The amount of the pension is typically based on the employee’s years of service and salary history.

Equitable Distribution in Missouri

Missouri follows the principle of equitable distribution when it comes to property division during a divorce. Equitable distribution ensures that marital property is divided fairly, although not necessarily in equal shares. Marital property encompasses assets acquired throughout the course of the marriage, while separate property includes assets obtained before the marriage or after the separation.

Regarding retirement accounts, those funded during the marriage fall under the category of marital property and are subject to division. Conversely, any contributions made before or after the marriage are considered separate property and are not divisible.

Dividing Retirement Accounts in Missouri

In Missouri, the process of dividing retirement accounts during a divorce involves several steps. Firstly, the total value of the account as of the date of separation needs to be determined. Once this figure is established, it is then divided between the spouses. Several factors are typically taken into account when determining the division, such as the duration of the marriage, each spouse’s financial needs and resources, and the earning capacity and contributions of each spouse.

To ensure a fair division, the court may issue a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). A QDRO is a legally binding document that outlines how the retirement account will be divided between the spouses. After the QDRO is prepared, it is sent to the plan administrator, who will then implement the division according to the terms specified in the order.

Tax Implications

It is crucial to consider the tax implications that arise from dividing retirement accounts during a divorce. Mishandling of the division process can lead to significant tax consequences.

To avoid tax penalties, it is imperative to draft the QDRO correctly. Additionally, withdrawals from a retirement account may be subject to taxes and penalties, depending on the account owner’s age and the specific type of retirement account.


Dividing retirement accounts during a Missouri divorce can be a complex matter. It is highly advised to seek the guidance of an experienced divorce attorney to ensure a fair distribution of retirement account assets. By working with a trusted attorney, you can protect your financial interests and receive your rightful share. If you are going through a divorce in Missouri, reach out to a reputable divorce attorney who can navigate the process with you and safeguard your financial future.

Scroll to Top