In a pending divorce can a spouse spend their retirement fund or change their life insurance policy?

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In a pending divorce can a spouse spend their retirement fund or change their life insurance policy?

Aren’t both considered to be marital assets?

Asked on July 4, 2011 under Family Law, District of Columbia

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Depending on what portion was earned or acquired during marriage (not before marriage or after separation), then yes, that portion would be considered a marital asset. Based on an accounting done during the divorce proceedings, your spouse's earned retirement would be reviewed to determine what portion would need to go to you and even if the spouse somehow cashed it and spent it, he or she would still be liable for that amount. Further, if the spouse was attempting to hide assets and the court so rules, then the spouse could be held liable for a whole lot more. Separation, keep in mind, as defined in most jurisdictions, is when the two people are living separate and apart with no possibility of reconciliation. Now, on to the life insurance. The holder can change the beneficiary; because the benefit hasn't been earned until death. If any marital monies went to paying for the insurance premium, then an accounting may be needed to discuss those monies but I am unsure if the court will force the spouse to keep the ex-spouse as a beneficiary. It seems highly unlikely.


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