Thursday, January 10, 2008

Divorce: Pensions and Qualified Domestic Relations Orders

Do you have a pension? Is the pension vested? Then it is part of the marital pot but pensions have some special rules handed down to the states by the federal government.

Chicago Family Law Blog: Has a fairly long post on Qualified Domestic Relations Orders and Divorce Settlements. Qualified Domestic Relations Orders come into play where one party is given part of another's pension. We call them Quadros (QDRO). The post provides a good background to the subject and the following description of the process:

QDRO Process
ERISA plans must establish a reasonable, written procedure for evaluating a QDRO and often provide a guide for what is necessary and acceptable. Some even provide a model QDRO form. The plan administrator must approve the QDRO before it becomes effective.

The QDRO may first be submitted to the court for approval and signing, but most seek prior approval by the plan administrator, to save the effort and expense of having to go back to the court to obtain another QDRO, if the plan administrator rejects it. The plan administrator is obligated to give explanations for any rejection; no fee may be charged for considering the QDRO. The plan administrator's rejection may also be appealable in federal court.

After the QDRO has been accepted by the plan administrator and approved and signed by the court, it becomes enforceable in federal court by the alternate payee.
A complicated area of law, you should be able to tell this from the length of this article and this one from the Georgia Family Law Blog, What you should know about QDROs.

Update 2/27/2008: take a look at Divorce, Property Division and Five Tips on Retirement Assets.

Update 4/15/08: New Indiana Court of Appeals decision - When is Spouse Entitled to the QDRO.

No comments: