By Karen Racowsky
In a blog post last fall I talked about one of my roles as the Pension Rights Center’s Staff Attorney, which is providing information and referrals to individuals who call us for help in obtaining their retirement benefits. I refer many of these callers to the six federally-funded regional Pension Counseling and Information Projects we work with. In appropriate cases I also refer people to our National Pension Lawyers Network (NPLN).
One of the most common issues people need help with is dividing a retirement benefit at divorce. Some callers that I speak to are finishing up the divorce with their soon-to-be former spouses. Others have been divorced for years. Frequently they contact us because they are missing a key piece of the divorce puzzle. They tell us that their divorce decree or settlement says that they are entitled to receive a share of their former husband or wife’s retirement benefit, but they do not have the special type of court order that will allow a pension or 401(k) plan to pay them the benefit. Most commonly, this is called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order or “QDRO.” We have a great fact sheet about QDROs here.
The thing about QDROs is they require an attorney to have knowledge of family law in the state where the divorcing spouses live as well as an understanding of the rules of the relevant retirement system. Many attorneys who specialize in divorce don’t draft QDROs, and neither do most attorneys who specialize in employee benefits. So, if we want to be able to help callers obtain the retirement benefit they were awarded in divorce, we really need to make sure NPLN contains attorneys who can draft QDROs. Our goal is to have several attorneys who can draft QDROs in every state. Can you help us meet this goal?
Are you an experienced attorney who can draft QDROs? Click here to sign up to receive pension client referrals from the Pension Rights Center. We are looking for attorneys who have experience drafting QDROs in any state. There is never any obligation to take cases we refer to you.
Are you a spouse or former spouse, employee, or retiree who needs help with a pension or retirement savings plan issue? Call our office at 1-888-420-6550 or click here to send us a Pension Help Request!