Are Retirement Accounts Marital Assets in South Carolina?

July 6, 2021 | J. Benjamin Stevens | Share:

When a couple goes through a separation or divorce, often one of the largest categories of assets they have are retirement and other employment benefits. Pensions, 401(k)s, IRAs, and other retirement plans can be worth a substantial amount of money, and they are also often crucial to securing your financial future. As a result, it’s important to understand what types of accounts are (and are not) considered marital property.

Are retirement accounts marital assets in South Carolina? The short answer is yes; employment benefits are considered marital property. This is true even for those benefits that are titled only in the name of one spouse, something that people often find confusing. However, just because your name alone appears on your retirement account does not mean it is your separate (non-marital) property.

Generally, retirement accounts accumulated or acquired during a marriage are considered marital assets, and they are therefore subject to being divided along with all of the other marital assets.  This rule of treating employment benefits as joint (marital) property applies to pensions, 401(k)s, IRAs, retirement funds, stock options, and even bonus payments. Virtually any and every kind of retirement vehicle can be divided in a divorce and is treated as marital property.

Are there any exceptions? Yes, and they are identified and handled on a case-by-case basis.  It is also important to note that only the portion of the retirement account accrued during the marriage is marital property, and the funds accumulated prior to the marriage are typically considered to be separate (non-marital) property and are therefore not included when the marital assets and debts are divided.

Retirement accounts can often be more valuable than you might think.  For instance, it is usually easy to determine the value of a 401(k) account, but pensions and other types of retirement accounts may be worth significantly more than it appears. Many times, financial experts are required to determine the value of a pension account.

Contact our office at (864) 598-9172 or to schedule an initial consultation.



Aggressive, creative, and compassionate are words Ben Stevens' colleagues freely use to describe him as a divorce and family law attorney. Mr. Stevens is a Fellow in the prestigious American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, the International Academy of Family Lawyers, and is a Board Certified Family Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. He is one of only two attorneys in South Carolina with those simultaneous distinctions. He has held numerous leadership positions in the AAML, and he currently serves as one of its National Vice Presidents. Mr. Stevens has a statewide practice and regularly appears all across South Carolina.  His practice is focused on complex divorce and child custody cases.

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