What is a QDRO and why do I need one?
A QDRO (or Qualified Domestic Relations Order) is the legal document that divides up a qualified pension or retirement account (including 401k’s) pursuant to a divorce. Neither the Judgment of Divorce nor the Property Partition is sufficient to divide up the qualified plans; a QDRO is needed, preferably before the divorce is final. Federal, State, County/Parish and Military retirement benefits have to be divided by special Court Orders. There are many nuances that go into these Orders and if they are not prepared, or prepared improperly, you can lose your access to these pensions. In order to safeguard your assets, be sure these Orders are prepared and that you have written confirmation from the plan administrator that your interests are protected. Read more about QDROs and other pension order services.
I have never worked. Can I get Social Security?
If your spouse has worked and if you have been married for 10 years or more, you may be entitled to one-half of your spouse’s Social Security or your own, whichever is higher, even if you are divorced. Your spouse still retains 100% of his or her Social Security benefit. Hoffman Divorce Strategies professionals are knowledgeable about Social Security claiming strategies that can help you maximize your Social Security benefit. More information can be found at the Social Security Administration website.
Is my IRA considered marital property if it’s in my name only?
Everything acquired during the marriage, no matter whose name it’s in, is typically considered marital property.
What if I bring a house into the marriage that is in my name only, and I add my spouse’s name to the title?
You might have made a “presumptive gift” to the marriage and should consult with a family law attorney to discuss your options.
Do we have to go to court?
Usually you will have to go to Court to settle custody and property issues. If you can’t reach an agreement at all, then, a court date is set and a judge hears the case. If you enter into a Collaborative Divorce and successfully complete the process you never have to go to Court.
How do we figure how much child support should be paid?
Louisiana has Child Support Guidelines that are mandated by the State. However, the Guidelines get tricky when one (or both) spouses is an independent business owner who can control their income or has significant investments or one or more of your children have special needs. If your joint income exceeds the guidelines Hoffman Divorce Strategies can assist you and your legal counsel in preparing a lifestyle analysis for the purposes of calculating child support
How do I know which assets are the best ones to keep?
Not all assets are created equal and some assets may have more of a beneficial effect on your financial future. Assets such as businesses and retirement accounts continue to grow. Other assets may require money for their upkeep, such as a home and automobiles, and those costs must be considered in the overall settlement. Andrew is experienced in assessing these situations.
Will I be able to receive alimony?
In Louisiana it is referred to as ‘spousal support’. Hoffman Divorce Strategies will help you determine your financial needs and the most financially efficient way of structuring and securitizing your support agreement. Although, no two cases are the same, the tests for maintenance include consideration of the following:
- Need – Can you support yourself with earned income plus investment income?
- Ability to pay – Does the payer of alimony have sufficient funds to pay?
- Length of marriage – A long-term marriage (10 years or more) is typically a stronger case for the lower-earning spouse.
- Health of both parties –
Only an attorney can advise you how the specifics of your case may impact your ability to receive alimony. If you and your spouse cannot agree on what is reasonable then a judge will make that decision.
Do I need to have an attorney?
Although couples have the right to file pro se or in proper person, meaning without legal representation, HDS recommends that clients always work with an attorney. HDS is not an attorney, cannot offer legal advice and recommends that you always review their strategies with legal counsel.
How do I know I am getting a reasonable settlement?
Louisiana is a community property state. This means that the community property settlement must be equal. Hoffman Divorce Strategies can assist you in understanding the financial and tax impact of various settlement proposals covering not only asset distribution and debt assignment, but spousal and child support to assist you in obtaining the most optimal settlement.
Should the custodial parent keep the house?
While the answer is sometimes yes, there also may be times when the answer is no. It’s important to pinpoint exactly what it will cost to maintain the home, factoring in taxes and inflation and expense of upkeep. An analysis must be performed to determine if there is enough money to stay in the home and pay all the bills. Once that has been determined, the advisability of retaining the home must be compared to that of giving up other assets (such as liquid accounts, retirement plans, etc.). Hoffman Divorce Strategies professionals are trained to help people answer this question before they commit to a settlement that cannot be changed.
Can I keep my pension?
Pensions and retirement plans are marital assets if earned during the marriage. However, it is possible to keep your pension and offset it with other assets.