San Antonio Attorneys for Educator Retirement Account Division
If you are getting a divorce in the state of Texas, you need to contact a divorce lawyer. The division of assets from a marriage can be complex, and there may be a significant amount of paperwork. The implications of the choices you make today may not be apparent until years later, when it is too late to change them.
Contact the San Antonio retirement division lawyers of Higdon, Hardy & Zuflacht, L.L.P. today at (210) 349-9933 to speak with one of our divorce attorneys. We are ready to schedule an initial consultation with you. Let us help you navigate this situation so you can make the best decisions for your future.
What Is an Educator Retirement Account?
Retirement accounts can often be a couple’s greatest asset in terms of monetary value. In the state of Texas, teachers are part of the Texas Teacher Retirement System (TRS). In this system, an educator’s pension is determined by a specific formula. The formula uses the teacher’s five highest salary years and years of experience to calculate the pension benefits. If you were a TRS member on August 31, 2005, had at least 25 years of service credit, or were at least 50 years old, you should use the three highest years of salary for the calculation.
TRS retirement accounts have a vesting period of five years before the account holder qualifies for a pension. Additionally, the educator must be of state retirement age. Depending on several factors, a teacher may be eligible for early-age service retirement. One of these factors is the teacher’s tier within the TRS system. Pension distributions can either be made monthly or paid as a partial lump sum (PLSO).
How Is an Educator Retirement Account Divided in a Divorce?
Texas is a community property state. This means that any assets acquired by the spouses during the marriage are owned equally by both partners. In a divorce in Texas, the assets from the marriage are divided between the spouses. This does not mean that the division is even or straight down the middle. Instead, assets are split fairly and equitably. This can mean an uneven distribution of certain property, such as retirement accounts.
Community property includes the earnings of both spouses during the marriage and any assets acquired with these funds. It doesn’t matter which spouse’s income was used for a certain item. If the property was acquired after the marriage date and before the divorce, it is generally considered a marital asset. However, this does exclude gifts, personal injury settlements, and inheritance.
Individual contributions to a retirement account after marriage are considered community property. Any contributions made prior to the marriage are considered separate property. There must be documentation to prove the amounts that existed in the account before marriage.
When it comes time to divide an educator retirement account, this can be done in two ways. One way is that the spouse whose name is on the account may keep the full amount while the other spouse receives assets of equal value. An agreement must be reached for this. If the couple is unable to agree on terms on their own, the judge will make the division. However, in that case, the couple will be bound by the judge’s decision, even if they both disagree with it.
It could also be that funds are withdrawn from the retirement account so that the value can be split. In that case, a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) is required. This is a legal document that directs the plan administrator to distribute an amount from the retirement account to a person who is not the account holder. It’s important that your attorney is experienced with this type of order and retirement account. The Texas TRS system has specific requirements that must be satisfied for proper distribution.
How We Can Help
If you have an educator retirement account, you want to protect your investment. You have worked hard to build this for your future security. Higdon, Hardy & Zuflacht, L.L.P. can help you keep as much of it as possible.
Even if your divorce is relatively amicable, it can be complicated when it comes to dividing assets. You may feel pressure to agree to certain settlement terms. While this can move the process along, it’s critical to understand what you are agreeing to before you settle. Once a judge signs the documents for a court order, you will be bound by these terms.
A divorce is usually an emotional experience. There may be times when it feels difficult just to make any divorce-related decisions. This can be even more true when a marriage includes children, significant assets, property, and retirement savings.
An experienced divorce attorney can steer you through this tumultuous time. You need someone who has been through this process many times before. When you choose Higdon, Hardy & Zuflacht, L.L.P. to represent you, you can trust that we have your best interests in mind. We will assertively advocate for you each step of the way. Our attorneys will keep you informed so there are no surprises along the way. We will handle all negotiations in your case.
Contact Higdon, Hardy & Zuflacht, L.L.P. Today
If you are going through a divorce in San Antonio, you need to speak with a divorce attorney as soon as possible. We understand that this can be a difficult and painful time. You owe it to yourself to understand your options. The decisions you make today can significantly affect your future.
Higdon, Hardy & Zuflacht, L.L.P. knows you may have many questions. We have provided answers to some of the most common inquiries we receive. Our attorneys are proud to share the testimonials of our previous satisfied clients because our reputation is built on outstanding client service. We are ready to take on your case, no matter how complicated it may be. We have a depth of experience ranging from simple uncontested matters to contentious and complex cases.
Call (210) 349-9933 today to speak with a member of the Higdon, Hardy & Zuflacht, L.L.P. legal team. You can also submit a contact form, and we will be in touch as soon as possible. Our compassionate divorce attorneys are ready to discuss your case with you. You do not have to face this alone. Let us guide you through this sensitive time so you can focus on moving on with your life. Call us now.