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In terms of a NYS employee pension, a DRO is issued upon a divorce. Is a separation agreement legally the same a a divorce?

Stony Point, NY |

On the NYS pension website, they say that any pension arrangements made in the separation agreement are not enforceable. It goes on to state that a DRO is the only enforceable document to distribute pension benefits to an ex-spouse. It continues to state that a DRO is only issued upon a divorce decree by a judge. My husband and I will not be divorcing. We plan to sign a separation agreement for the benefit of continued health insurance. Can a DRO be issued after a separation agreement is signed, or will we need to file for a divorce upon his retirement to get one? We also do not plan to file the separation agreement with the court, as we are agreeing to not divorce without mutual consent.

Attorney Answers 1


You newed to be divorced and to show the plan administrator the judgment of divorce. You may want to get a copy from the plan administrator of what language they want in a court order to divide a pension at the end of the case. With NYS pensions, sometimes it takes a very long time to complete the process.

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