Missouri Divorce And Retirement Benefits: Q&A

Divorce can be an incredibly daunting process, especially when it involves the division of assets and finances. One of the most crucial assets that couples need to navigate during a divorce in Missouri is retirement benefits. Understanding how these benefits are divided is essential. In this question-and-answer article, we will address common concerns regarding retirement benefits in a Missouri divorce.

What Constitutes a Retirement Benefit in Missouri?

In Missouri, retirement benefits encompass any form of income or benefits derived from a retirement plan or investment. Popular examples of retirement benefits include 401(k) plans, pensions, annuities, and IRAs. These benefits are considered marital property in Missouri and are thus subject to division during a divorce.

How Are Retirement Benefits Divided in a Missouri Divorce?

Missouri follows an equitable distribution approach, which means that assets and property are divided fairly, but not necessarily equally. Retirement benefits, including other assets, adhere to the same equitable distribution rules.

In general, retirement benefits earned during the marriage are deemed as marital property and are subject to division. However, benefits acquired before the marriage or after the divorce are classified as separate property and are not subject to division.

How Are 401(k) Plans Split During a Missouri Divorce?

401(k) plans are a widely utilized form of retirement plans that can be divided during a divorce in Missouri. To initiate the splitting process, obtaining a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) is essential. This legal document outlines the specifics of how the retirement plan will be divided.

Once a QDRO is in place, there are two methods to divide a 401(k). The first option is dividing the account balance at the time of the divorce. Alternatively, the account balance can be divided based on the contributions made during the marriage. The QDRO will provide clear instructions on how the division should occur.

How Are Pensions Divided During a Missouri Divorce?

Pensions are another form of retirement benefit that can be divided in a Missouri divorce. A pension represents an investment that yields regular income during retirement.

To divide a pension in a divorce, a QDRO is necessary. This document specifies how the pension benefits will be divided between the two parties involved. Generally, the division is based on the percentage of benefits earned during the years of marriage.

In Missouri, if a couple is legally separated, retirement benefits are usually not considered marital property and thus not subject to division.

Can a Spouse Waive Their Right to Retirement Benefits During a Missouri Divorce?

Absolutely. It is possible for a spouse to waive their right to retirement benefits during a Missouri divorce. In some cases, a spouse might choose to forgo their entitlement to the other party’s retirement benefits in exchange for other assets or property.

What Happens if a Spouse Retires After a Missouri Divorce?

Upon retirement following a Missouri divorce, the retirement benefits received are generally not subject to division. However, if the benefits were accrued during the marriage, the other spouse may still be entitled to a portion of the benefits through a QDRO.


Navigating the division of retirement benefits during a Missouri divorce can be a complex and significant aspect of the overall process. It is crucial to seek guidance from a knowledgeable attorney who can assist you through every step, ensuring your rights are protected along the way.

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