Do I Need a Qualified Domestic Relations Order?

Divorce can negatively affect the retirement pensions spouses have accrued during their careers. Those who may be contemplating divorce should be aware of the different ways a split might affect their future benefits, as an ex-spouse may be entitled to some benefits from the retirement plans of their former wife or husband. There are also additional factors involved, such as whether an ex can immediately access part of the assets or must wait until the plan participant retires or dies.

Is a divorce judgment sufficient?

In order for former spouses to receive present or future retirement benefits from their exes, it is usually necessary for their attorneys to file Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDRO) with the court. This specific order allows pension plan administrators to distribute an ex's share of the employee's retirement benefits to the former spouse.

Courts have discretion over the portion of pension benefits to award to a former spouse, minor child, or other dependent. These allotments are detailed in the QDRO, and plan administrators must honor the terms. Sometimes a QDRO orders the retirement benefits to be paid out to an alternate payee. These orders are frequently signed after the Final Judgment of Divorce.

An estate lawyer and financial planner can provide guidance

Because family law attorneys are not as well versed in all aspects of retirement and estate planning matters, estate planning attorneys and financial planners are sometimes consulted during a divorce. An estate planning lawyer and financial advisor can provide advice on a one-time or ongoing basis, dependent upon a client's specific circumstances and needs. He or she can work together with the family law attorney to make sure all pension benefits are addressed in the QDRO and allocated fairly during divorce negotiations and settlements.

You should also see our firm’s two other articles titled “QDRO’s and DRO’S: DIVIDING RETIREMENT SAVINGS and PENSIONS PLANS in DIVORCE” and “DEALING WITH RETIREMENT BENEFITS IN DIVORCE” for more in-depth articles on splitting retirement assets and the use of Qualified Domestic Relations Orders in a divorce. Said articles are located on this website. Click on the links QDRO’s and DRO’s: Dividing Retirement, Savings and Pensions Plans in Divorce and Dealing With Retirement Benefits In Divorce for these articles.

Peter Van Aulen has been practicing in the area of family law and divorce for over 24 years. He handles most aspects of family and divorce law. Mr. Van Aulen has been certified by the New Jersey Supreme Court as a matrimonial attorney. This is a merit given to a small percentage of New Jersey lawyers. He had to pass a comprehensive exam and receive an evaluation by his peers who were familiar with his work. Mr. Van Aulen also had to be assessed by Judges he appeared in front of for a contested matter. Peter Van Aulen handles cases big and small. He cares about his clients. The Law Offices of Peter Van Aulen is located in Saddle Brook New Jersey. If you have any questions concerning divorce and family law, call today at (201) 845-7400 for a free in office consultation.

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