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Qualified Domestic Relations Orders

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 consultation.

Client Reviews
Peter has integrity, and values his relationships with his clients beyond his financial relationship with them. For me to say this about any lawyer is really saying something. He is compassionate, straightforward and knowledgeable. I would easily recommend him to anybody. Lewie W.
Peter Van Aulen handled my case with great diligence and integrity. He is also a compassionate individual who realizes what a difficult time divorce can be emotionally. Peter works hard and doesn't take any shortcuts in preparing for a case… I highly recommend Mr. Van Aulen and his staff. Chuck Solomon
Peter is an exceptionally great attorney. He handled my child custody case and was able to ease any of my concerns with honest answers. He always took the time to explain the pros/cons and was always available to answer any questions that I had… I would highly recommend this attorney to anyone who is looking for one. Jessica Cruz
Peter Van Aulen is a very compassionate, honest and straightforward person. He was there for me at my lowest point with a genuine concern not only for my situation, but for me and my child's well being above all… He is fair and he is strong and when push comes to shove he is there for you. Cathy Dodge
Our cousin used Peter's law office to help with a sticky custody situation. He was extremely responsive, very nice and most importantly did an awesome job with the court! He is awesome. Lawrence Polsky

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