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Pensions and QDROs, Qualified Domestic Relations Orders and the Distribution of Pension Benefits to Alternate Payees and Survivorship Rights

Nov 16, 2015 @ 02:40 PM — by Michael Green

Pensions must generally be split 50/50 for the asset that accrued during the marital period, from the date of the marriage to the date of the divorce complaint filing.  They are generally split via a QDRO or Qualified Domestic Relations Order, an order executed by the Court that is then sent to the plan directing them to split the pension based on the marital period.  QDROs may be drafted by a service or some plans have their own QDRO.  Every plan has its own terms as well that allow for certain distributions and disallow others.  For example, generally, a party that is the alternate payee or the party who is receiving a distribution from the pension from the other spouse, should seek survivorship rights.  This means that if the payee, the individual who has the pension, dies before receiving pension benefits, or before they retire, or if the payee dies after they begin collecting, the alternate payee will continue to receive the benefits they were supposed to receive if the payee continued to live.  Generally, there is a reduction in the payout of the pension, commensurate with the cost of the plan obtaining essentially a life insurance policy on the payee, to insure the benefits to the alternate payee.  Generally, the parties may share the reduction in the pension benefit equally, although some parties may not agree to this reduction.  Plans such as state police pensions and others do not allow for survivorship benefits and alternatively, the alternate payee may seek to obtain life insurance on the payee so that the pension obligation is secured regardless of whether they predecease the collecting of benefits or if they die after retirement or if the plan does not allow for survivorship benefits.  QDROs are a rather complicated procedural instrument and it is recommended that you obtain legal services from a divorce attorney or divorce lawyer or family law attorney or family law lawyer to assist you in the distribution of any pension via QDRO.  

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