Most states use a rule known as equitable division when judges divide marital property in divorce. Basically, this means that a couple's marital assets and debts will be distributed among them in a way that the judge deems equitable (fair) in the circumstances of the case. Household items, as well as valuable collectibles, should be divided according to the spouses. Although the debate over who can receive an antique piece of furniture may seem volatile to the parties involved, it is in the best interests of both spouses to determine the division without outside intervention.
Instead, you need an attorney to draft what's called a qualified domestic relations order, or QDRO. This is separate from the divorce agreement, although it is based on the content of that judgment. The court also approves it and sends it to your 401 (k) plan administrator (who must also approve it). And if more than one workplace account is split, a separate order is required for each one.
Meanwhile, while splitting an IRA doesn't require a QDRO, you still need to make a trust-to-trustee transfer, with the funds deposited in a rollover account for the beneficiary, Thompson said.