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I was ordered my now ex-husband's pension/retirement in court. How do I get it?

Victorville, CA |

The judge ordered me the whole pension because he denied having one. How do I go about getting info on it and possibly cashing it out? I'm aware that I will have to pay penalties already.

Attorney Answers 3


The way to get your ex-spouse's pension benefit paid to you, as ordered by the court, is to submit an additional order, called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). This is a special order which instructs the pension administrator to pay the benefit to you, rather than to your ex-spouse. Since QDROs have highly specialized language, and there are complicated issues involved (such as cost of living adjustments, time of payment, etc.) your best course of action would be to retain an attorney who is familiar with QDROs.

Once the QDRO is drafted and signed by the court, the plan administrator must 'qualify' it (make sure it complies with federal law and the plan's guidelines). However, as soon as the plan administrator knows that a QDRO is pending, it will flag the pension account, so that no distributions are made until the QDRO is finalized.

One thing to keep in mind is that typically, a pension will not start paying out benefits until the participant (your ex-spouse) reaches retirement age, or actually retires. And many pensions do not permit you to cash it out - you may simply be entitled to the monthly pension payments your ex-spouse would have gotten. This is why it is a wise idea to have an attorney familiar with QDRO issues work with you; an attorney should be able to get all the necessary details from the plan, discuss the issues with you, and advise you on what options you have for that particular pension. Best of luck.

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You need to proceed with a QDRO or Qualified Domestic Relations Order but you may not be able to cash it out as the pension plan is also subject to federal regulations regarding payment. See an attorney to help with this. This office can help.

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Contact a QDRO attorney; the pension plan needs to be joined and a QDRO prepared.

This response will not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Sarieh Law Offices, and is not intended to serve as a legal advice in your specific circumstances. This response is a legal opinion based solely on facts represented and you should not rely on this legal opinion as a legal advice. You still need to consult an attorney directly to fully protect your legal rights.

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