Division of Pension and Retirement Accounts After Divorce
Proper division of parties’ retirement accounts in a divorce is crucial to ensure an equitable division of the marital estate. Often times, retirement accounts, such as a pension, 401(k), or an IRA are the largest assets owned by the parties.
Once retirement benefits are divided in the parties’ divorce decree, many times there are additional actions required to actually divide the accounts per the terms of the decree. Sometimes, these post-decree services aren’t included in the original divorce attorney’s fee. Other times, these post-decree items are neglected.
For example, some retirement plans, such as 401(k)s and pensions are subject to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), which is a federal law that sets forth standards, requirements, and protections for these types of retirement plans. Pursuant to the requirements of ERISA, in order to transfer retirement benefits in a divorce, a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) must be approved by the Plan Administrator and the court.
The terms, options, and conditions of a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) can be complex. It’s critical for a divorce attorney to understand these complexities and nuances to properly protect your interest in the account and possible rights to future benefits. For example, it may be possible for a former spouse to receive benefits upon the death of the account holder.
Our experienced legal team has drafted and reviewed hundreds of Qualified Domestic Relations Orders and other unique orders required to finalize the division of retirement accounts in a divorce.
If you’ve recently been through a divorce and the final actions were not taken to execute the division of your retirement accounts, contact our office to schedule a consultation to ensure you receive what was awarded to you in the Decree.