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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Attorney
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Experience:  Lawyer
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My husband and I live in Tennessee. He filed for divorce in

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My husband and I live in Tennessee. He filed for divorce in Tazewell, TN in early June. We have an agreement (currently in his lawyers hands) that hasn't been finalized yet. We agreed on how to divide up our credit card debt. My lawyer is on maternity leave for another month - so I must wait. Is it OK if I use my retirement savings to pay off my part of the credit card debt before the divorce is finalized? The interest rates are killing me...

My name is XXXXX XXXXX I'd be happy to answer your questions today. I'm sorry to hear about your situation.

When a divorce is filed, there is an automatic restraining order on all marital assets until it is completed. That unfortunately means that you are not permitted to take funds out of your retirement accounts without either your husband's consent or the judge's permission. This is because half of the money in those accounts legally belongs to your husband if it was contributed during the marriage.

You may want to email your lawyer or call her office to see if anyone else is assisting with her cases during maternity leave. It would be pretty unusual for an attorney to just leave her clients entirely for 6 weeks or more. She can email your husband's attorney to see if he will agree to let you use your share of the retirement account to pay for your share of the debt. If he won't then it would be necessary to file a Motion for Permission to Take IRA Distribution. Your reasoning makes sense, so it's likely that the judge would allow you to take up to half the money in that account. But start by seeing if your husband will agree.

Also keep in mind that, if you are not 59.5 years old, there may be a 10% penalty assessed to any funds withdrawn from your IRA. You will also be taxed on the money regardless of your age. Be sure to factor that in when weighing the benefits of using the retirement funds to pay your credit cards.

If you have any questions or concerns about what I've written, please reply so that I may address them. It's important to me that you are 100% satisfied with the service I provide. Otherwise, please rate my service positively so that I get credit for answering your question. Thank you.
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