As a family law attorney and mediator, I often have people say to me “I don’t want to divide my retirement account.” In New Jersey, retirement money accumulated during the marriage, meaning from the date you were married to the date the complaint for divorce is filed, is subject to equitable distribution. Equitable distribution does not necessarily mean a 50/50 split but it means it is very likely that some portion of your retirement will go to your spouse. How can that be prevented? Reach an amicable settlement or resolution rather than than going through the courts. The best way to do that is through mediation.

If you’re not sure what mediation is, you can read more about it

If you choose to mediate, it is possible to preserve your retirement. Below are a few possible outcomes if you are able to reach an amicable agreement or resolution at mediation:

You keep your retirement, and your spouse keeps the marital home (or a greater portion of it).

You keep your retirement, and your spouse keeps his or her retirement. (Neither retirement account is divided).

You give your spouse a lump sum payment from another asset and in exchange, you keep your retirement account.

You sell your vacation home, which is a joint asset, and your spouse keeps the proceeds (or a greater portion of it). In exchange, you keep your retirement account.

Your spouse keeps other investments (stocks, bonds, mutual funds) and you keep your retirement account.

The point here is that there is an exchange of assets whereby your spouse gets more somewhere else, but you get to keep the retirement assets. We strongly encourage mediation as an alternative to traditional litigation because it allows you to be creative in your settlement outcome. The court does not have the authority to order some of these creative suggestions outlined above. So if you want to keep your retirement assets in divorce, you won’t get that if you go to court. You will need to make efforts to resolve the matter outside of court.

With the help of a mediator, you and your spouse can agree to alternatives. The mediators at Netsquire can help you devise a solid plan for retirement.

About the Author


John Nachlinger is a co-founder and managing attorney of Netsquire, a family law firm focused on streamlining divorces through effective mediation, settlement drafting, and court filing assistance. As a New Jersey Supreme Court Certified Matrimonial Law Attorney and Qualified Mediator, John guides couples toward equitable agreements without the cost and stress of litigation.

Recognized as a New Jersey Super Lawyer for over a decade, John’s client-focused approach aims to foster understanding during challenging transitions. With a background spanning top law journals, judicial clerkships, and boutique family law firms, John now applies his analytical skills to create workable solutions for all parties. His mediation services reshape the divorce journey by prioritizing compassion and compromise.

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