When you are going through your divorce proceedings, you should not forget about retirement benefits of your spouse while you are dividing your assets between you. Retirement benefits are significant amount, which is not worth forgetting while divorcing and must be an important part of your divorce proceedings.
If your spouse has an employer who provides a retirement plan then legally you are also entitled to share the retirement benefits, unless you have any written agreement (prenuptial agreement) of not sharing such benefits before the marriage. Your ex partner is also legally bound to share the part of retirement benefits, if you too have any retirement benefits.
However, in certain cases one of the spouses is considered to be primary bread winner and in such case how can you protect your share of his retirement benefits in divorce? How to stop the employer of your ex-spouse to pay all the retirement benefits to his present spouse and paying you nothing or very little? These things are generally decided by Qualified Domestic Relation Order also known as QDRO.
What is the role of QDRO?
The circumstances that have been cited above are generally resolved with the help of QDRO. This QDRO is an order from the court where court gives their judgement regarding settlement of various assets including child support, property rights and alimony. They can also give instructions related to the pension plan that exists for the spouse and how that can be paid to the other partner for sharing it.
With the help of QDRO, you can get guarantee about protection of your marital settlement agreement and thereby allow the retirement benefits come to your account even after separation from your spouse.
However, you cannot assume that your rights for retirement assets are covered, just because QDRO has given you the right to share the retirement benefits of your spouse. QDRO is applicable only for those plans that are tax qualified and also covered under Employee Retirement Income Security Act. In case of military or government pension, QDRO may not be applicable as such pension is governed by different law.
You must consult Attorney
If the retirement benefit of your spouse is very substantial amount then you need to consult your attorney so that he can use QDRO to draft the suitable agreement so that you have no difficulties in sharing the benefit of retirement of your spouse. Usually, normal QDRO format may not be sufficient to protect your interest in all type of cases.
If your attorney is not sufficiently knowledgeable about QDRO then he may take some more time to do research and do more paperwork and for that you may have to pay an additional fee too.
You also need to make sure how the benefits will be paid to you as there are plenty of legal procedures involved with the method of paying pension benefits to ex spouse.
Last but not the least, you have to understand that divorce proceedings is very costly and it can take a toll on your emotional and financial health. Therefore, you need to educate yourself with all the laws and your rights and employ a qualified team to fight your case.