NADP Monthly Member Meeting | Distributing Retirement Benefits in Divorce

 When parties divorce, their marital agreement or divorce decree will most likely provide support and divide assets. When real property that is jointly titled is divided, a deed would usually be required in order to enforce the distribution of that property. Likewise, when enforcing the distribution (splitting) of retirement assets pursuant to a divorce, a separate order is required. The type of order depends on the type of retirement, employer, and whether the plan is “qualified.” 

This presentation will discuss the different sources and types of retirement accounts for which a separate order would be required; the specific type/name of order required; the effects of language in a marital settlement agreement and/or final decree on the subsequent retirement division order; and the process of drafting, preapproval, court process, final approval and distribution. 

The proper drafting of these orders will ensure that your client receives what they were awarded in their agreement or divorce decree. 

 Key Takeaways: 

  • Knowing when a QDRO or similar order is required; 
  • Defining the types of retirement plans: defined contribution, defined benefit, military retirement, federal civilian retirement, state retirement, municipal retirement, non-qualified retirement; 
  • Discussion of the specific orders required: For private pension qualified plans or State (Florida) pensions, that order is a Qualified Domestic Relations Order. For military retirement, that order is a Military Retired Pay Division Order. For federal civilian plans under the CSRS/FERS, that order is a Court Order Acceptable for Processing. For military/federal Thrift Savings Plans, that order is a Retirement Benefits Court Order. For municipal plans (city police/firefighter, etc.) that order is usually . . . not allowed. 
  • The entire process of retaining counsel, drafting, approval, and distribution; 
  • “Watch Out!” pointers to ensure that your client receives what he/she expects to receive from these retirement plans. 

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