The division of assets during a divorce is a complex and stressful process at a time already heightened with anxiety. Determining the ownership and dispersal of a pension income can add a new level of intricacy that is perhaps best negotiated under the guidelines of Qualified Domestic Relations Orders. These orders help you to define and recognize alternate payee’s and their rights to receive or to assign the right to receive benefits that are payable under a retirement pension plan.
A QDRO applies to all types of pensions including those with a defined contributor such as a 401k as well as pensions with formulated payments based on contributions. Identifying pension income or future income as a divisible asset that has been contributed to by the marital union, even though it may be in only one spouse’s name, is critical to creating a fair and equitable division of assets.
Establishing an alternative payee that is entitled to money owing from a pension can be a complex affair. The QDRO document, while meant to offer clarity is an intricate agreement that requires correct preparation. Identifying who qualifies, joint spousal ownership and so forth should be formulated with knowledge of divorce law and include clear language, free of ambiguity. Whatever your position, both the payor and an alternate payee should be aware of how the QDRO can affect their current and future incomes.
All too often pensions are not identified during the original development of divorce agreements and spouses who are entitled to a portion of the retirement income fail to assert a claim. Discuss your concerns with an experienced attorney who can help you through the process. A trained professional can assist you during the divorce proceedings by representing your interests and even help implement a judicial order years after the settlement of assets.