My ex-husband has retired and receiving 100% of his retirement benefits. Our divorce decree awards me 50%, and I am currently awaiting approval on my QDRO from his plan administrator. We recently went to court and the judge told my ex that it is his responsibility to ensure I receive my portion and "recommended" my ex voluntarily write me a check for my 50% until the distribution begins. The judge also suggested that I contact my ex on a regular basis requesting my money. My ex told me he is NOT going to give me any money and that I, "will just have to wait until the administrator begins to send the check." I live in Maryland, what legal recourse do I have to eventually get what is owed to me until such time as I start receiving my portion from my ex's plan administrator???Mr. Schultz, Thank you for your prompt response. I have been laid off since June 2011 and unable to afford legal counsel. I willl do my research to see who I can afford so I can get the ball rolling as soon as possible and hopefully I can include my legal fees into the Petition. You have been most helpful. Respectfully, JLB
You can file a Petition for Contempt against your ex-husband. The Petition for Contempt is a way to allege that your ex-husband is willfully disobeying the court order (your divorce decree) to share retirement payments with you. You will probably want an attorney to properly prepare the Petition for Contempt and Show Cause Order for you, although there are forms for people representing themselves available through the Circuit Court clerk's office.
Mr. Schultz's answer is correct. As you indicated in your question, you may be able to recoup your attorney's fees and costs as part of the contempt proceeding; however, this is not a guaranty.
Please be advised that any information or advice given herein does not constitute an attorney client relationship. Further, before taking any actions or deciding not to take any actions, you should seek counsel of an attorney. This forum cannot provide you with the anyalysis and detail necessary for a full and accurate opinion to be rendered.
To begin with, because the only legal way to obtain a share of the opposing party's retirement funds in a family law case is through a QDRO, I am not sure that the judge had the right to order your ex to pay you directly. Furthermore, and more to the point, it does not appear to me that the judge did so, since a recommendation is not an order. I would not waste time pursuing a contempt proceeding under these circumstances. Rather I would do everything possible to expedite the processing of the QDRO.
Although lawyers are not supposed to accept family law cases on contingency in this jurisdiction, it sounds like you are definitely expecting to received funds from your husband's retirement while it is in a payout status. I and many other Maryland family law attorneys normally are able to assist in such cases at an hourly rate, with the understanding and agreement that we will be promptly paid once you begin receiving regular income from your husband's retirement.
If you do not want to pay an attorney, you will just have to take your chances in dealing with the plan administrator on your own. If the administrator is a food one, that shouldn't be a problem. But I have one case currently in which it appears that I must sue the administrator to do its job and process the QDRO, which has been pending for months.
THIS RESPONSE DOES NOT ESTABLISH AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE. IF YOU WISH TO OBTAIN LEGAL ADVICE UPON WHICH YOU CAN RELY, PLEASE CONTACT MY OFFICE OR THAT OF ANOTHER ATTORNEY FAMILIAR WITH THE SUBJECT MATTER OF YOUR INQUIRY.
1. If you cannot afford an attorney, try calling the local bar association to secure the services of a pro bono or gray panel attorney.
2. Try what Mr. Belcher suggested, finding an attorney who will wait to be paid from any award of court.
3. If 1 or 2 does not work, go to the Court and ask the Clerk for a Contempt package and complete it. At the same time, do what Mr. Belcher suggested, file a second Motion for Appropriate Relief demanding that your Ex-Husband enter into a QDRO. There are services that draft QDRO's for as little as $500.00.
4. I believe that you can find an attorney to help you as Mr. Belcher advised you.
FYI: Even if the Motion to Compel is unsuccessful in having a QDRO entered, I believe that if your Judgment of Divorce included your rights to 50% of the Ex's retirement, you may have more than one remedy, and you may also have to ask the Court to enforce the agreement/Order by all possible means. Go find an attorney.
I am not licensed to practice law in Georgia. You should seek GA barred counsel for legal advice. This response is for educational purposes only and is in no way to be deemed a legal opinion of Counsel. This answer is in no way to be considered that you have retained my services as your attorney.
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