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Can my ex file a QDRO for my pension when we divorced prior to it being vested? There was no mention in my1982 divorce judgement

West Covina, CA |

QDRO's were required after 1986. We were divorced in 1982. I worked from 1979 - 1993. My pension vested after 5 yrs. but we had been divorced 2 yrs. already. The divorce only states that the court has jurisdiction over "husband's pension plan". Is he entitled to file a QDRO against my pension that was earned after our divorce and is not mentioned specifically in the final judgement?

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Attorney answers 2


If the divorce decree says that the court has jurisdiction over husband's pension, then the court can issue decisions over husband's pension. Thus, it may be possible, but is hard to say for sure without reviewing all relevant documents. It sounds like the issue of the husband's pension may have been reserved during the divorce proceedings. In any event, even if she could get some of your pension, it may not be worth the fight (financially) in court. She would only have a right to a portion (not all) of the pension you accumulated (even if it was not vested) from 1979 (if you were married to her then) through 1982 (when you divorced). That is just 3 years worth of pension. Your pension continued to increase after the divorce, and she would not have a right to what accumulated after the divorce (11 years more worth of pension).

You should consult with an attorney in your area about the possibility that the court could now render a decision on the pension. However, to fight any possible pension benefit award to your ex wife, you may need to hire a retirement plan attorney in addition to the divorce attorney. Most divorce attorneys are not very familiar with retirement plan law. It's like if you would go to a cardiologist to take care of a broken bone.

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It is possible that the family court could order a division of the marital portion of the pension benefit although there are several factors to consider in the enforcement of that language. The vesting is less of an issue because a benefit accrued during the marriage. That you satisfied the plan's vesting requirement means the benefit accrued during the marriage can be paid out to you and potentially your ex-spouse. I would suggest talking to a divorce lawyer in your area to determine what liability you may have under the terms of the divorce decree.

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