Based on my years of experience as an attorney who specializes in the division of pension benefits in divorce, the most common financial mistake made is failing to identify a pension plan that needs to be divided and failing to file a qualified domestic relations order (“QDRO”) at the time of divorce. Often a pension plan is a major asset in the divorce. Often that pension plan is not adequately identified or not identified at all in the divorce documents. Very often even if identified, a QDRO has not been filed to protect the nonparticipant spouse’s interest in the pension. In both of these scenarios, after divorce, if the participant subsequently dies in most cases it will not be possible for the nonparticipant spouse to receive any of the pension. If the participant subsequently retires, in most cases it will not be possible to ensure that the nonparticipant spouse’s interest in the pension be paid for the rest of nonparticipant spouse’s life. However if a QDRO is filed concurrent with the judgment of divorce or soon thereafter with appropriate division language included in the judgment of divorce, the nonparticipant spouse’s interest in a lifetime benefit from the pension, if applicable, can be secured. The parties or their family law attorneys should retain an experienced attorney who specializes in the division of pension benefits in divorce to ensure the matter is handled correctly.
Louise Nixon has specialized in determining the community or marital interest in pension benefits earned through employment and in consulting and/or drafting appropriate orders for the division and disposition of those interests. While QDRO Counsel Inc., a Professional Law Corporation welcomes visitors to its offices, almost all QDRO services may be provided via phone, fax, email and mail. Louise can be reached at 888-760-7376.