Tuesday, April 15, 2008

New Indiana Court of Appeals decision - When is Spouse Entitled to the QDRO

That was the issue in In Re Marriage of Cook (PDF format) decided on April 14.

Mother received the Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) for child support arrears (Father accrued $25,000.00 before the divorce was final) and property settlement. Getting the money out of the pension fund became the problem.

...The Plan set forth four classes of benefits: (1) retirement; (2) termination; (3) disability; and (4) death. The earliest age that a participant becomes eligible for retirement benefits under the Plan is fifty-five, assuming that other conditions necessary to qualify for early- retirement are satisfied. A termination benefit is available only if the participant has accumulated less than $5,000 in the account and has accumulated two consecutive one-year breaks in service. The death and disability benefits, as the names suggest, are available only to a participant who has become disabled or has died.
(Opinion at 3). Mother moves to modify the QDRO so she can get the child support owed her. Trial court says she cannot do so - she has to meet the terms of the pension plan. (Opinion 4-5).The Indiana Court of Appeals agrees with the trial court.

Frankly, I think the Court of Appeals was right on the money but I cannot understand why anyone would wrap child support arrears into a QDRO. I suspect Mother found out just how bothersome was this method of collecting child support.

For more general information on QDRO's, see my post Divorce: Pensions and Qualified Domestic Relations Orders.

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