Getting Income From Retirement Plans After Divorce

QuestionGetting Income From Retirement Plans After DivorceAs a part of my divorce settlement, I am supposed to get a portion of my husband’s retirement plans. I’ll need some of the money to live on, but I’m only 53, so I’m too young to receive retirement benefits. What’s the best way to handle this retirement plan distribution?

AnswerGenerally, a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO, pronounced “quadro”) would be used to transfer your portion of your husband’s plan to an IRA in your name. Ordinarily, you can’t take money from your IRA without penalty until you are 59-1/2.

If you need money to live on now, you can elect to have the funds transferred from your husband’s plan directly to you, rather than transferring them to your IRA. You will have to pay tax on the money you receive, but there won’t be any 10% penalty if the money comes from a retirement plan other than an IRA.

If you don’t want to pay all those taxes up front (and who would?) you can choose to have the money sent directly to your IRA. Then you can annuitize the IRA, taking monthly distributions based on your remaining lifetime.

Although IRA distributions before age 59-1/2 are usually subject to a 10% penalty tax, an exception applies if you annuitize the IRA and continue receiving the payments until you are 59-1/2 (and for a minimum of five years).

1,081 thoughts on “Getting Income From Retirement Plans After Divorce”

  1. I would like to divide my 401k and give my ex her portion as soon as possible. We are both in our mid 50s. The divorce decree states” the Wife shall be entitled to a Majauskas share of the husbands 401-k as of the date of commencement of the matrimonial action that was pending at the time such agreement was executed, to wit July 16 2018. The wife shall obtain her share of the same by means of a Qualified Domestic Relations Order.
    The marriage lasted 25 years.
    The 401k started in January 2015
    As of July 16 2018 the balance of the 401-k is $100,000
    – Can I initiate this instead of her?
    – Can all (or only some) of this be completed now and before retirement age? (initiate and complete QDRO, divide 401-k and give her her portion)
    – Is there any advantage to wait vs. get this done now (it was a contentious divorce, we are no contact, the grapevine says she needs money now, and I’m seeking closure) I have no issue with paying the QDRO fee.
    – How is the Majauskas formula applied before retirement age?
    – Approximately how much is she entitled to (roughly based on the application of the formula)?

    1. Since you have a divorce decree, your next step is to have a Qualified Domestic Relations Order prepared and served on the plan administrator to notify the plan administrator the terms of the division. Once they accept it as qualified, they can divide the plan however the QDRO provides. I don’t know what the Majauskas formula is, but since it refers to some case in your state, your attorney or someone they recommend can answer your questions regarding it and its application in your stiuation.

  2. Desperate Autism Mom

    I was awarded 50% with a QDRO in Texas a year ago. My ex had the QDRO state the money of to be rolled into a new account for me. My disabled son and I need money to get a home. I thought I was allowed to request a cash option. My ex says I don’t get an option. Our decree states he must pay all fees for a transfer. I think he’s trying to force me to accept the 401 account rather than Valerie’s check to push the penalty fees onto me. Can he do this? He left us broke and he’s doing very well. I can’t afford an attorney and we’re going to became homeless without that money.

    1. I don’t know the rules in Texas. But in general, you each have to sign and approve the QDRO before it is served on the plan administrator. You will want to have it drawn up so that a portion (or even all) of the funds are paid directly to you rather than rolled into an IRA in your name. They will withhold income taxes on what you request be paid to you and you will get the net amount after those taxes are withheld. And any additional taxes over and above the percentage withheld will be due at the time you file your income tax return in the spring. Though you owe the income taxes on the funds paid to you, there is no penalty for early withdrawal before retirement age since it was done using a QDRO. And I get that your ex says you don’t get an option, but find out from the QDRO preparer or plan administrator whether the plan allows for the funds to be withdrawn. Some pensions don’t but most plans do.

  3. I was married in 1984, divorced in 2003. I have worked for my current company since 1985. I will be retiring this year. There was no QDRO filed with the divorce and the divorce settlement did not mention anything about pensions or retirement. It basically stated that whatever was hers is hers, what’s mine is mine. Our finances were always separate. I have not spoken with my ex-wife in about 15 years, I do not even know where she is or if she is even alive.

    I turned in my papers for my pension, and the form asked me for the divorce papers. My question is this: will the pension plan administrator attempt to contact her to let her know I am retiring?

    1. Oh boy, you are asking me to tell you what the pension plan administrator is going to do. I don’t know, since I’ve never met the person, but if I wanted to find that out I would probably ask them. Have you considered doing that? If your divorce settlement agreement said that all assets in your name were awarded to you, and the pension plan falls into that category, I would think that they would see that she doesn’t have an interest in it and therefore would have no need to contact her. But I’m just guessing, asking the administrator would be the way to find out “from the horse’s mouth”, so to speak.

        1. I do not know. But if you are unmarried, and your former spouse doesn’t have an interest in the plan, then I don’t see why they should. But the best source for information on what rules or laws the plan administrator follows is the plan administrator.

        2. Some companies do require a copy of divorce decree to make sure he/she is not entitled to any portion.
          If they have an address for her they may attempt to contact.
          – Also your co. may request a Notarized signed form stating Forfeits all interest for pension in question by your ex spouse.
          My ex husband & I have been divorced 30 yrs & still was asked to sign form stating I had no interest in his pension. They wouldn’t release his pension without it.

  4. Once your divorce is finalized in the courts, and the QDRO has been completed, does my ex have any rights to my future 401k match or profit sharing contributions that my employer deposits into my defined contribution plan? Are these considered “Income” for the purposes of alimony payments due? I owe a percentage of my Income to her for the next few years and was wondering if this is included in income. If it is, how does she get paid for her portion of it since it’s in a retirement account and wasn’t paid out in cash to me? I’m hoping it’s exempt from maintenance support, but if not, would I have to pay out of my own funds? Or would this have to go thru a QDRO every year a contribution is made to my retirement account?

    1. That’s a good question. It depends on the laws of your state. Support generally is based on the income that’s available, and clearly employer contributions to 401(k) plans are not available funds from which support can be paid, unless you are given the option of receiving those funds in cash. So many, maybe even most, states don’t consider that to be income that is available for support. Your income would be what you earn plus any other income you might have, unreduced for voluntary contributions you make to retirement plans.

    2. Marc,
      Retirement funds are distributed at the time YOU retire. If she was entitled to any money from retirement fund she’d have to wait for you to retire. Unless you agreed to otherwise, such as lump sum buy out or other equal form of collateral.
      As for future 401k contributions made by employer she normally would NOT be entitled to. It’s usually calculated from date of marriage/date hire/to date divorce filed/finalized. UNLESS your divorce decree states she’s entitled to “x” amount of the 401k including future employer contributions. The QDRO that was completed would tell you what she’s entitled to & when. Done by their mathematical system they use employment yrs/marriage/ divorce etc.
      Your income is total wages earned for the year. Not employer contribution to retirement fund.

  5. California divorce – 2010 and date of separation was 2007. X still has not filed a QDRO and now my x employer has moved 401k plans 3 times. I called several don’t have statements any longer. I have a good statement from about 1 month after the date of separation. When he figures out he needs to do QDRO – how will anyone calculate out the amount? It was 110,000 balance 40% vested and 30k of that was a rollover from prior job before we were married so that part should be 100% mine. So, I am hoping it will look something like 110-30=80 times vesting 40% = 32k * 50% community property = 16k – but obviously he left it in my account and has been earning there is some clause several pages down from the 401k that read like it neither of us share in gains of property given or acquired in the agreement so hoping that means no earnings and no further vesting after that point. I am also thinking I should just move close to what he will be getting into a fund of it’s own on the statement so it’s identifiable…. Got any thoughts on all this?

    1. Your divorce agreement should say how much of the retirement plan is his, or at least give a formula for how it is to be calculated (for example, identifying how much of the plan is yours from before marriage). If it doesn’t say how his portion is to be calculated, and you and he disagree as to how to calculate his portion, you may need to go back to court or to mediation to work it out.

      1. Thank you for the reply. I went and looked at the document and it is not very clear of course. Just states
        “During the course of the parties marriage, wife was a participant at xxx in 401k plan. (only mentions co I was at when divorce was filed but previous employer aka the rollover into this plan). Husband & wife agree to divide wife’s 401k pursuant to a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, with the court reserving jurisdiction over his asset.”

        That’s it . Another same paragraph for his pension which was considerably less and obviously a set amount per month. My 401k at the time of separation was
        110k balance – 30k rollover pre-marital = 80k of which was 40% vested only at that time.

        Of course now that account is worth about 650k and he really thinks he is entitled to 50% of the whole balance.

        I would appreciate any feedback you can provide thank you!

        1. Someone will need to make a calculation of the marital value of the 401(k), excluding your separate property interest, under the laws of your state. The person who draws up the QDRO can probably do that. If he balks and says no, I want half, then you will have to ask the court to affirm the calculations of your separate property.

  6. I have a QDRO from my divorce about 16 years ago. I pulled out the paperwork to find the contact information for a change of address. I’m now 56 and thinking starting to think about how close retirement is. I see that it says I could have taken a lump sump 16 years ago and/or rollover to an IRA. So now I’m wondering if this money has been in his retirement account, making money for 16 years instead of being in my IRA making money. Also wondering if I took a lump sum now, would it include the profits.
    It says I’m awarded 100% of the participant’s vested balance as of 2005, however in no event will the Alternate Payee (Me) be entitled to an amount in excess of the total value of the Participant’s account at the time assets are segregated or distribution is made to the Alternate Payee.
    It also mentions I could have moved it to a separate account established within the Participant’s Plan.
    Does this mean I might have been able to take increases in value only if I had separated it from his plan?
    I just assumed, incorrectly, that I would not see this money until he retired and would get monthly payments for life.
    Then, my divorce decree shows my formula as 50% x the number of years I was married, divided by the numbers of years my ex-spouse was employed by his company.

    Basically, based on this information, I’m trying to figure out if I should just stay the course and get monthly payments for the rest of my life or take the value and move it into my own IRA where I might compound the value?

    1. Ask the plan administrator to tell you how much is allocated to you in their records, and what your options are at this point. I’m guessing that the portion allocated to you in 2005 has been credited with earnings and has grown significantly since 2005. If the plan allows and you want to manage this in your IRA you can have it moved out of the plan. But most people would stay in the plan until retirement, and then make the choice of whether to get monthly payments or a lump sum rollover.

  7. Hi good morning I have been divorced a few years granted 50% share of his retirement and pension fund in the divorce stipulation. I am going to be getting remarried very shortly I never filed a QDRO yet do I lose his benefits if I didn’t file it yet or can I file it at any time? he is still young my ex-husband and far away from retirement? Thank you

    1. You will not lose your retirement benefits if you remarry. But you are playing a game of chicken by delaying filing. That’s because you will lose them if he draws them out before you file a QDRO, since the plan administrator has no knowledge that part of that money belongs to you.

      Do you really want to take that chance, that he changes jobs and moves the money into a rollover IRA, or that he withdraws the money and pays the penalty for early withdrawal and then spends it all? Or that he dies and leaves the money to someone else whom he named as a beneficiary?

      Don’t be foolish — file the papers right away. After all, you’ll need to do it eventually anyway, and better to be protected now than to be fighting an expensive, protracted and risky court battle trying to get your funds after something has happened that jeopardizes your interest.

  8. My divorce was finalized May 3, 2019. We never completed a QDRO or DOPO order. Can I refund my SERS retirement just by providing my divorce decree? and do I have to upload the whole document or just the first page that says judgement is granted.

  9. My husband’s ex wife was awarded 9k of his 401K in the divorce, this was almost 2 years ago. He has now been laid off due to Covid, and we need the remaining funds from his 401K account to be ok. However, even though he’s terminated in the system, they said there is a court ordered hold on his account due to the divorce, and the plan administrator has no idea how much she is supposed to get. They say they won’t just accept a copy of the divorce decree. Can she really hold him from getting his 401K money by not filing additional paperwork? Do we have any options?

    1. The plan administrator needs a Qualified Domestic Relations Order that tells them how much of the plan is to go to her and how to get it to her. Why is your husband waiting for her to prepare that order? It seems that he’s the one who wants it done, so why not get it done?

      1. In the divorce, it stated she was to be the one that paid any additional fees to have the 401K money removed for her. If he can get it done himself, we will. We just weren’t sure if the court ordered hold was the QDRO or if it was just a basic hold. If we can do it ourselves, then we will get it filed and have the lawyer send her the bill for the paperwork. Since it requires a determination of how to get the funds to her, does she not have to sign off on how she wants the funds? Or can we just elect to have them moved to an IRA in her name?

  10. I’m 53 years old and getting divorced after 15 years of marriage (18 years including 3 years of separation). I’m having a QDRO prepared to transfer a portion of my soon-to-be-ex’s retirement assets to me. I’m thinking of rolling it over into a target-date retirement fund. How do I know if I want an IRA, a Roth IRA, or a 401(k)?

    Also, from previous jobs, I have an IRA and two 401(k)s. Should I roll them over into the new target date fund so I have just one account to manage, or is it better just to leave those funds where they are (in which case I would have 4 retirement accounts)?


    1. You likely will want to transfer the funds into a traditional IRA. If you opt for a Roth IRA instead, all the funds that are transferred from his retirement to your Roth IRA will be taxable, and you will have to figure out how to pay the taxes in the year of transfer, probably 2020. You may have a 401(k) at work, but you cannot transfer the funds into that 401(k) since you didn’t earn the funds coming from his retirement, he did.

      You are welcome to keep the four different accounts, but if it were me, I’d opt to roll them all together, if you are allowed to do so. But the mutual fund company may say you have to segregate them into two accounts, one for the rollover funds from his retirement accounts and one for the rollover funds from your retirement accounts.

  11. I got divorced after 18 yrs back in 2005. My ex is currently 66 yrs. old and retired almost 2 months ago on 1/2020. A QDRO is in place since 2007. I am 59 1/2 yrs old currently. I live in NYS. Wondered what I have to do now in this process? What steps do I take? Any? I haven’t heard anything from anyone as of yet about my share of the pension due to me. I have contacted the NYS Retirement Dept. and the DRO Dept. No one has responded with any information. Do I just assume that things are happening and need to be patient? Do i have to be 62 yrs. old before I can claim my share of the pension? What do you advise? Thank you so very much.

  12. I need help. I was awarded half of my husband’s Vanguard account of which I was taxed 20%. My legals fees were almost as much as I received. They were hefty. This also included custody. I had to take the cash since I owed my attorney almost everything that I got from the QDRO. My question is, am I able to claim any attorney fees incurred getting this QDRO since my ex dragged his feet coming up with all of his assets which took month for him to come up with. He kept hiding assets which I never knew he had. This was my only income since I was a stay at home mom for 12 years which took me out of my job market. Now I am unemployed and having a hard time securing a job. There is a lot more to this case which turned into a J case which also increased my attorney fees a lot. The CPS lawyers took over along with my family law/divorce attorney, so I have been unable to really secure any kind of job so far. This divorce was a nightmare.

    1. I guess you can ask your former spouse to reimburse you for part of your legal fees. But if he doesn’t, then your attorney possibly could request a court order that he pay part of your fees, if that’s possible under the laws of your state and it isn’t too late to file such a request for fees.

  13. I was QDRO’ed a portion of my ex’s 457 during a divorce in 2008. I’ve left the funds in with the same management in an account that bears only my name.
    While I am 66 and still working, he just turned 70.5 last April and the managers have notified me that I must begin RMD’s due to his/participant age. (He is still alive.)
    I thought the account was mine now and had planned to wait until 70 to start withdrawing. Management’s letters refer to me as a “Non-Spousal Beneficiary,” but an advisor just told me I am a “QDRO Alternate Payee.” I don’t care what they call me, but am stunned I’m being told to start removing money.

    1. Can you move the total funds out of the plan and into an IRA? If so, that will probably solve this problem for future years. If not, then you are probably his beneficiary and not the true owner of the plan (this has to do with it being a 457 plan, which is technically different from 401(k) and 403(b) plans.) In that case, it is still considered his money for the purpose of the RMD requirements and so is governed by his age and not yours.

    2. Hi
      I just received a letter of welcoming package thru his plan. Qdro was hired but the balance is only 3k we been divorced for over 2 years but he never agreed to start the process until naw. Is there any way to find out if he took money out or move money from plan before we hired attorney. Married for 8 years so am sure he did something ?

  14. Hi,
    My ex-husband and i were married for 23 years, and i have a court ordered QDRO . The QDRO states that I get 1/2 of his Ford Pension for the 23 years that we were married. My ex-husband called me the other day and said he has his 30 years in at Ford so I can start receiving my portion of his pension. I have been going round and round with the new company that took over the retirement department for Ford since April and it is now Jan 2020. They are stating that all that is owed to me is $194.42 a month. I have asked how they are coming up with the amount and they sent me their calculation factors but with no amounts. I am beyond frustrated!! Any help would be appreciated.

    1. I do not have that information, of course, but you can ask the plan administrators how the factors they sent are specifically applied to your former spouse’s earnings history – the total benefit to be paid, the percentage that you are getting (presumably around 50% of 23/30, and whatever other amounts are figured into the calculations.

    2. Lorrie
      My husband is getting ready to retire from ford also and I was wandering if you found out if that amount was right?

  15. We were married for 27 years and divorced in 2016. We did the QDRO and I am now receiving my portion of his PERS retirement, which was outlined in our settlement. Our settlement also required that he pay me $1200/mo in spousal support. He remarried in 2017. He retired October 1, 2019. He died Nov. 9, 2019. At that time my spousal support ceased.I am aware that his portion of the PERS retirement was nearly $400,000. Because he was a city govt employee he never paid into Social Security, so I don’t have the option of receiving a portion of any Social Security benefits from him. Since my spousal support ceased last month upon his death, I only have my portion of his retirement outlined in the divorce + my own Social Security benefits to live on. I am 65 and no longer physically able to work full time. I am wondering if a judge would possibly consider that a portion of the $400,000 retirement benefit go to me. Doesn’t seem right that it will go to a woman he’s known for 4 years when during the 27 years we were married, I helped him to attain his retirement benefits. Just wondered what you think my chances are. I have to go to court next month because he had filed to stop spousal support payments to me before he died, our date to go over this was set in May for January 15, 2020. His attorney tells me now that he’s dead, there’s nothing to talk about, it’s all set in stone.
    Thank you for any advice.

    1. I think your chances are zero, but I’m not an attorney. It sounds as though you consulted with an attorney and his opinion is the same. For everyone reading this, when you sign your divorce agreement you are agreeing to the terms in it, so think through what could happen in the future. In general, there are no do-overs.

  16. After a divorce a QDRO was sent to my ex-husband’s “non-qualified deferred compensation plan.”
    They followed the QDRO, and put my portion in a separate account in my name only, but still in the employer’s plan where my ex-husband still works. However, I was told they cannot send the funds as a roll over to my IRA? Also, if I withdrew the funds to remove it from the employer plan I would have to pay immediate taxes and it would also be considered ordinary income? I find this all confusing, and just want move the funds to my own IRA. Any advice?

    1. In general, a non-qualified plan cannot be rolled into an IRA. It sounds as though this is true in your case. Usually the employee chooses the terms of payout when the funds are deferred into the plan, for example, payable over 10 years at retirement, and that applies to all the funds, including the portion assigned to you. But talk to the plan administrator about what your options are for receiving the funds. And yes, any funds you receive will be taxed as ordinary income. As for confusing, I agree, these types of plans don’t fall under the normal retirement plan rules, thus the designation “non-qualified”.

  17. My order stated I am awarded a lump sum interest of __ __ amount, from the Valic 403(b) Pension Plan arising out of employment with ___.
    I had a Qualified Domestic Relations Order prepared and filed and is now final. The plan administrator said that I cannot access the money in the account until after their employee is no longer an employee (either through retirement or moving on to another job). A HIGHLY unusual circumstance, but the Court cannot make the plan distribute the money from the account they created for me pursuant to the QDRO.
    Can I go back to court since I assumed that I would be able to draw money from the retirement to live on? I get no alimony or child support. In fact I would have had to pay child support, but it was waved.

    1. The same plan rules apply to the alternate payee as apply to the employee. So if the pension plan provides that distributions are made to employees only upon termination or retirement, those same rules would apply to you. Those are common provisions in pension plans. But you are calling it a 403(b) plan, which isn’t a pension plan and which generally will allow for transfers into your IRA or to you using a QDRO. So get straight about what this plan is, and then talk to your attorney about what you can do at this point.

      1. Correct the 403(b) is an annuity and the money was transferred into an annuity in my name only. I just assumed I would be able to get money wright away. That assumption cost me.

  18. Need to Know is there a somewhere in the law saying that the other spouse sign the paper work stating that they
    don’t want to receive any of the pension. Are do they have to write a statement saying that. Cause my mother second husband pass about three years ago. My mother say he made a trip to Florida and it was to make a change to his pension plan. She did not go with him. After he pass she found out that someone forged her that on the paper work for not to receive the pension. I know that the extra fund would make my mother life better. Can she get a lawyer to find a hand writer expert to look into this situation. And did they have to be married a certain amount of time. My mother is 85 years old need the money

    1. If the pension plan received the proper signed declarations that waived a survivor benefit, then the payments then they made larger payments to him during his lifetime that they otherwise would have made, and there is no survivor benefit to be paid to your mother. So she would need to sue the beneficiaries of his estate to get what she would have been entitled to if that waiver had not been filed with the plan administrator. Before she hires a handwriting expert, she needs to consult with an attorney to find out exactly how the laws of her state apply in her situation.

  19. Hi, Divorced 8 yrs ago and my husband was to get 53k from my 401k and a small portion of my pension but no QRDO was ever filed. Im retiring next month. Wondering if I should of just move forward with my retirement without mentioning this to my 401k admin and my retirement pension admin. My 401k will be rolled into a IRA with another company than who has administered it while working. He may never file the QRDO but that is just my hopes. His Lawyer was to do the QRDO filing per our divorce decree. We have zero contact. This is in Illinois

    1. The plan administrator can only work off official Qualified Domestic Relations Orders, and so they will make full payment to you whether you “mention” anything or not. But be aware that if you receive payments that don’t belong to you (because they were awarded in part to your former spouse), he likely has a legal right to come after you for those payments. You might want to get some legal advice from an attorney about what your rights and obligations are under the circumstances.

  20. Hello, My divorce was finalized in 2005. We had been married just short of 10 years, during which I was a stay-at-home mom and my ex was a teacher, with a teacher’s pension. Let me say upfront that I was desperate to get out of that marriage, as my ex was abusive and also I had recently discovered, had been inappropriate with my then 12-year-old daughter from a previous marriage. I hired a very reputable attorney in our area, but this attorney really dropped the ball. In the divorce decree it states that my ex would keep all of his pension, and I would keep all of my 401K. I was naive. I knew I didn’t have a 401K at the time, but didn’t know if that meant going forward or what, or why would it even be stated in there if none existed? My attorney looked over all paperwork and said it looked good to sign, so I did. I’m now wondering if there’s any way to go back and have this opened up so that I will receive the amount I was entitled to, or am I out of luck because I signed that we would keep our own retirement funds (even though I had none). Thank you so much for any advice you can offer.

  21. Excellent Q & A here. Divorced in 1995, with a portion of his pension granted me in the documents at 5% per year. He has retired and his pension board is working on this. Will I have to pay taxes on the settlement? If so, on the entire amount or just on the interest? The divorce decree doesn’t address that. We are both older than 59-1/2. He will have to pay the 10% on the withdrawal and he will get the 1099-R. Looking forward to your response.

    1. If you were awarded a portion of his pension and you filed the appropriate Qualified Domestic Relations Order with the plan administrator, then you will receive your payments directly from the plan, and your husband will receive his benefits from the plan. Each of you would pay tax on what you receive, if the plan’s benefits are taxable, and most are.

      1. Thank you so much. I have not been able to get a clearer answer elsewhere. Follow-up question is: Can this payment be rolled into a pre-tax Traditional IRA?

  22. You have been so helpful. Thank-You so much. Thank GOD for people like you to help lost confused people like me. You are a GOD send. You TRUELY ARE APPRECIATED!!!!

  23. Whether she can draw on the pension depends on what the plan allows. It’s between her and the plan, and he doesn’t need to concern himself with that issue.
    He is the employee, right? So he is not alternate payee, his former spouse is. He is the payee in his plan. Once the QDRO is in place, in general, her portion is separate from his. So she can elect to have payments continue until her death, or paid to her sooner, it shouldn’t matter to him what she does. He should concentrate on what is best for him and his family (e.g., you). If he names you as beneficiary then when he dies you’ll get whatever benefits he has elected. If he elects not to have a beneficiary, and you sign off on that (don’t do it!), then the payments will end when he dies. Otherwise, some portion of them (generally 50%) will continue to be paid to you as his spouse.
    If he dies before she is paid, then she’ll get whatever she gets under the pension. Her portion is her portion, and she should work with the plan adminstrator to see when her payments begin and how much she gets.
    I’m guessing that the QDRO says that if he receives a portion of the plan that is supposed to go to her, he must turn it over to her. Once the QDRO is fully accepted and in place, there shouldn’t be any way that could happen.

  24. Hi. Just found your response. Thank you! If my husband doesn’t draw on his pension until 67 CAN SHE DRAW IT BEFORE THEN? If he doesn’t draw his pension at all then dies are we( WIVES) both just out of luck. IT says my husband is “alternate payee” If he is “alternate payee” When he dies will her part stop? My husband and I have been together 25 years. He was married to her just over ten. When he dies will I receive the pension or will she? QDRO doesn’t address who gets it after death. He said I was the beneficiary for his pension. I’m very worried about this because I stayed home to take care of the kids. What I would have made working is less than childcare for 3 kids. Since then I was in a car accident 10 years ago and unable to work. applied for ssd or ssi they said husband made to much. So when he dies I have no money coming in. unless it is pension or SS when I turn 60. If he dies before she gets paid can she go after his pension? 25% or all? QDRO says IF HE GET PAID he has to pay her, or she can put a lien on our house or assets. until paid in full. We are NOT trying to cheat her. In the past we had over 200 police reports. AGAINST HER. Finally got away from her Now we are sucked back in. I’ve tried being really nice. She thinks he’s going to get more money than he is. That’s why he is going to wait until 67 so she won’t cause problems for us. Because it will be closer to what she thinks he will get.

  25. My husband wants to draw his pension. His ex wife want 25,000 to buy her out. That is more than half. Decree says she get 25% of 30 years, He has 14 1/2. Vested. It also says the money goes to him. Then he has to pay her. She thinks he is going to get 1,400. a month. He is not. He is on SSD. He’ll turn 62 this week. They said around 900. They said teamster was going broke in 2025. If he waits until 67 he might get it for 1 year. But even then it will only be 1,200. a month. If my husband pays for the QDRO, and she doesn’t like how it reads. Then does my husband have to keep going back to attorney until she’s happy? She has already said she didn’t have any money to pay for it. CAN HE MAKE HER PAY FOR HALF ? IF MONEY COMES TO HIM, DOES HE HAVE TO PAY TAXES ON HERS? Then pay her. Can husband put all of it in an IRA or invest it until he is 70 then pay her? If she won’t agree on QDRO can she prevent him from getting it?

    1. He must do exactly what the divorce agreement says he must do. If it says they will have a QDRO drawn up, then that’s what they must do. If it says that each will pay for half, then each must do that. Generally, with a QDRO in place, the plan administrator would make the payments to her and she would pay taxes on the funds she receives. If that isn’t what his divorce agreement says they will do, then they must do what it says.

  26. Question: Married 16 years in CA. Divorce was finalized. In my paperwork I have to pay my ex part of my retirement and 457 plan when I retire (not retiring for another 7-10 years). When I retire I need to complete the QDRO. My question is this: Does she get 8 years of the retirement (half the # of years we were married)? She isn’t entitled to what I earned after our divorce was finalized correct?

    1. Generally, divorce agreements provide that a QDRO will be prepared that provides that she get a portion of your retirement, and then the QDRO is prepared soon after the divorce is final. The amount that she is to get is specified in the divorce agreement, generally by a formula: for defined benefit plans such as 401(k)s, it is generally the money in the plan at a certain date plus earnings thereon after that, and for pensions it is a formula determined by the time that you worked under the plan during the marriage divided by the total time you worked under the plan. I don’t know what your divorce agreement provides. If you need interpretation, talk to an attorney. And get that QDRO prepared as soon as you can, so it is in place and you don’t have to go through interpreting your agreement again at retirement.

  27. I need help. My ex has a retirement he is retired and gets his monthly payments. I am the 100% survivor beneficiary. I will get 100% of his pension when he passes. We have a qdro stating so in our divorce agreement. My problem is that he is withdrawing loans against his pension or using his pension as collateral or something like that and may never pay it back . How can he legally do that ? How can this be legal? what’s stopping him from taking all the money out and putting it into a different kind of retirement? Or him just spending it all so nothing left for me? Is there any way I can stop it? His pension is all I’ll have in my retirement when I do retire.

    1. If you have prepared a QDRO and served it on the plan administrator, and that QDRO says that he is not to take loans or transfer the funds elsewhere, then it is not legal for the plan administrator to allow him to do so. Otherwise, if they are letting him do that, then it must be legal. If your divorce agreement was that he wouldn’t do that, but you didn’t let the plan administrator know he wasn’t to do that by filing a QDRO with them, then they have no idea about your agreement. Consult your attorney right away to find out what the agreement was and what recourse you have against him.

  28. When preparing a QDRO, can you split the payout and keep a portion and rollover a portion to an IRA? How likely is it that plan administrators will pay out in one lump sum? We are in the beginning stages of filing for divorce and I want to be sure to know the details. I will need some money to live on and move but don’t want to pay taxes on the whole amount.

    1. If the retirement plan allows for payouts (most plans that are not government or school pensions do allow payouts), then you can have part paid out to you and you’ll pay tax on that portion, and part rolled into an IRA in your name that will be taxed in the future as you draw out funds from it.

  29. What do I do if my X- husband cashed out my retirement portion before I had a chance to receive it? Where do you go from there?

    1. If your divorce settlement agreement awarded a portion of your former spouse’s retirement to you, you should have prepared a Qualified Domestic Relations Order to let the plan administrator know what portion was yours and what to do with it. If you did serve a QDRO on the plan administrator and it was accepted, then you should go after the plan for paying out your portion to your ex. If you failed to serve the plan administrator with a QDRO, they did not know that any portion had been awarded to you and correctly made payments to your ex. So now you’ll need to go after your ex for reimbursement.

  30. Took my QDRO one 1/2 years my Lawyer put 2 different Divorce date .QDRO paper keep getting Rejected . still working getting my roth account my self. x husband giving me hard time . Lawyer I went to will not help out what i am in Title in my divorce . when pay Lawyer in fill you think they help you not case .

  31. My question is I was married to my ex husband for 24 years. We had an absolute divorce. At the time, i was unaware that I could have retrieve my ex-husband retirement. Therefore, it was not in the final order. Can I go back to NC court to retrieve his retirement? Or what are my options?

    1. If his retirement was not addressed at the time of your divorce in your divorce agreement, then you may be able to open up the case again for the purpose of dividing an after-discovered asset. Contact an attorney in your area to see how that works where you are.

  32. My wife’s x husband sends her a very small portion of his retirement each month. Does she pay taxes on that? She never received a 1099-R?

    1. It sounds as though the retirement is being paid to him as the retiree by the retirement company, so he is the one that receives the 1099-R. So when he giver her part of his net retirement check, she won’t owe tax since he was the one taxable on it.

  33. Kathleen McBride

    Hello folks,
    I’m in the process of a divorce. my first lawyer screwed me over and turns out he was friends with my husbands attorney who is a PBA attorney and my husband an NYPD deputy commissioner. long story short, i’m divorcing because he was extremely abusive and financially bankrupted us for years. i was working 120 hr weeks and 5 jobs thinking it’s just expensive on Long Island, even a 100 hr work week the day before my c-section. I finally got my husband to go to mediation but the mediator wrote the settlement horribly to the point my husband greatly benefitted. i meanwhile during the marriage was threatened into quitting my job stating i’d lose custody of our kids because “no one would give me custody working a corporate job in manhattan”, told he’d retire, take full custody, that i’d never see my kids. etc etc etc. long story. i’ve amended the settlement myself, did my research, got my husband to agree to pretty much everything including giving me the house (so i don’t hire a forensic accountant) but i need to make sure the pension part of this is written correctly. to my knowledge, i get 50% of 50%, so 25% of his 457 deferred comp, variable supplement fund and nys pension. they say it starts at the time he was served, not the divorce decree. the following is the settlement wording. I need to know if it’s right.
    23 List of Assets. New York City Police Department.
    (i) The Husband has a pension with the New York City Police Pension Fund. The commencement date for the Husband’s accruing of benefits for that pension is 04.30.19981.
    (ii) The Husband is entitled to a variable supplement by virtue of his employment with the New York City Police Department. The commencement date for the Husband’s accruing of benefits for that benefit is 04.30.19981. The Husband is currently employed by the New York City Police Department.
    (iii) The Husband has a New York City Deferred Compensation Plan, Participant ID 438183account, account number __________, with __________________, the current balance of which is approximately $260,000, by virtue of his employment with the New York City Police Department. The commencement date for the Husband’s accruing of benefits for that benefit is 04.30.19981. The Husband is currently employed by the New York City Police Department.
    The Wife shall be entitled to receive 50% of the marital portion of each of those assets. The marital portion shall be a fraction, the numerator of which shall be the number of months from the date of the marriage through the date of the commencement of the pending divorce action, 18th day of January, 2017 and the denominator shall be the total number of monthly of the referenced employment (the “Marital Portion”). Those transfers shall be may by Domestic Relations Order, Qualified or otherwise, to be paid for as follows: _____________________. 50% by each party. The Husband shall be under no obligation to elect any benefit that includes survivor benefits, second to die options, or any other similar option. The Husband is entitled to a retirement annuity from the Superior Officers Union. The commencement date for the Husband’s accruing of benefits for that benefit is 04.30.1981. The Husband is currently employed by the New York City Police Department.
    The Wife shall be entitled to receive 50% of the marital portion of that asset. The marital portion shall be a fraction, the numerator of which shall be the number of months from the date of the marriage through the date of the commencement of the pending divorce action, 18th day of January, 2017 (the “Marital Portion”). That transfers shall be may by Domestic Relations Order, Qualified or otherwise, to be paid for as follows: _____________________.

  34. Aloha,

    I am in the same situation as J.L. (posted July 2018). I was a housewife on my exhusband’s request and when we got divorced the QDRO was within the decree and sent to the union. The Decree stated that I get 50% of my ex’s annuity & pension. The decree also stated that I can take my annuity when I wanted. So the union divided the annuity and put mine in a separate account. I went to withdraw it and they gave me only half and stated that its for hardship and if I wanted the rest to take them to court. So I filed a motion and my attorney sent them a summons to appear 3 or 4 times and they never came. O won on default to I tried again and then they filed court docs for me to appear. When I went to court I didn’t have an attorney as my prior one got me the judgement and was done. The union stated they couldn’t give me the funds as it had something to do with taxes and asked that I don’t come after them for the funds. Then I also found out during that time that my exhusband bought a $1.2 million dollar home and put a substantial $500,000 – $600,000 down payment! When asked where the funds came from he wouldn’t answer so I suspected he withdrew funds from a retirement account so we tired to subpoena his pension (that I own 50%) fund statements and all the union did was say we are sending it to the wrong address so we resend the subpoena to the given address and the same response comes back and to this day they still haven’t handed anything to us with a subpoena. Why is this happening, can he withdrawal funds without my consent and we read the pension fund rules and it states that I can roll my portion over to a qualifying IRA which I have and still they won’t do it. Please advise what options I have.

    1. I don’t know why this is happening — it sounds as though you are not complying with their rules, no matter how hard you try. You have identified what options you have, and it sounds as though you want to roll your share into an IRA, so contact them to find out exactly what paperwork they need for you to do that. As for the source of the funds for his down payment, if you have evidence that there was a retirement account that wasn’t identified or divided during the marriage, you can take steps to get it divided now. You can see if he took the funds for the down payment from a retirement account by getting a copy of his tax return for that year to see if he reported that as retirement income.

  35. kayla

    June 19, 2016 at 11:23 pm

    y mother is supposed to be receiving a portion of my dads retirement I believe 40% or 45% is the agreement in the divorce paperwork however has just been diagnosed with terminal cancer doesn’t have much longer to live is there a way or is she able to will that her portion of what she’s going to be getting to Her daughters? If so how do we go about doing that do we have to have power of attorney to one of us or do we file like a Will? If so how do we go about doing that I just found out 3 days ago I am totally at a loss here I have no idea where to start how to go about doing any of this
    In the above my sister had this but they never had any kids, She had changed it to allow for her to receive longer payments instead of it going to any beneficiary. She ended up passing away not to long after, He has only been retired for around 4 years or so. Is there anyway to still get the benefits from his retirement ? If so what is required in doing it?

    1. If your mother was awarded a portion of the retirement in the property settlement, and it was already in pay status with payments being received, then it is likely that the election made when it went into pay status was payments for life that would end upon her death. If instead she received a portion of the retirement in her own name and made her own election when it went into pay status, you’d need to know what that election was. If she elected for her life alone, then payments will end when she dies. But if she elected that payments would continue after her death to a survivor, then that person would continue getting paymenets.

  36. I am receiving a portion of my ex’s retirement through A QDRO. My question is if I live with other person (man) will I stop receiving my monthly payment?

  37. My mom is 70-yrs.old and she only receives $250 from the retirement. Divorced for about 30-yrs. Now. She was always a housewife and never had a 401K retirement plan. I have a friend that mentioned she should be collecting from my dads retirement money and if he had a 401K plan. Is this true? And if so, what’s her next step to claim her benefits? Please help??

  38. Hi my husband recently quit his job and left me also he has been on drugs and is out of control. He is now trying to get his 401k can he do this and leave me with nothing?

    1. The 401(k) is in his name, so if he decides to take the money out of it, he probably can. You probably can get a court order that prevents that, but I think you’ll need to take legal action to do so, such as filing for divorce or legal separation. Talk to an attorney about what is the simplest thing you can do to prevent him making withdrawals.

  39. My divorce stated I received half of all retirement and pensions vested as of the date of the divorce. Ex’s attorney was to do QDRO etc. 10+ years later I am still fighting for my correct share of a pension that was not divisible by QDRO. He is paying me based on an estimated benefit statement from our divorce. Now I find out he has been turning it is as a 1099R on his taxes and not sending me a copy. The judge told us to find out if it was taxable as he kept wanting to call it alimony. Told him irs said it’s not alimony and I would acknowledge service to correct it as alimony. Heard nothing now three years later I find out he has been sending 1099R to IRS but not to me! I want a lump sum to get away from this man. I am stuck as to what to do next. All attorneys I know wrong their hands and say Geesh I don’t know.

  40. My ex had a private pension at the time of our divorce. We were married 23 years and I was awarded 50% f the pension. Since there was no way to do a QDRO (Fl, private etc..) there was specific wording regarding a specific date (Sept 1, 2018) and percentage he had to withdraw as a lump sum, as well as the date he was required to begin dispersal of the monthly payouts (I get 50% monthly). He had my 50% share ($55,000) of the lump sump direct deposited into my bank account ($31,500 total deposited), minus witholding ($23, 500 – almost 45%). My question is, now that it’s time to file 2018 taxes, he has issued me a 1099-MISC for the $55,000 with no accounting for the withholding. He is refusing to either issue or have issued a 1099-R accounting for the payout and the witholding. The difference is nearly $20,000 in tax liability to me. What do I do?

    1. If your divorce agreement said he was to withdraw half and give it to you, then he is the one taxable on the withdrawal, not you, since it was his pension. He has no business issuing you a 1099, since he didn’t make a payment to you that falls into any of the 1099-MISC categories. And he is not a pension, so he cannot issue you a 1099-R. And I question whether the net amount he received was only $31,500 when he made the withdrawal. He needs to provide you with evidence of what he received when he made the withdrawal, because that is what he should have gotten.

  41. My ex-spouse and I were divorced in 1994, and the decree mentioned that upon his retirement I would receive part of his pension. I recently found out my ex-spouse has retired so I called MERS his retirement company only to find out my attorney never filed a QDRO. The attorney no longer practices. Should I have another attorney draw up a QDRO and present it so that I can begin to receive my part of the pension?

  42. Good evening. I was married 16 years, a stay at home mother of 4. I recently went through a divorce and was awarded 55% of my ex’s retirement and 55% of his pension. It is to go through quadro I am 47 and barely making it. Can I get his pension or retirement now ?
    Thank you for your time in sdvance

    1. Generally , you can begin getting payments from a pension at the earliest date at which he can get payments. Once you have the QDRO you can ask the plan administrator to tell you when that is. Or perhaps whoever is drawing up the QDRO can find out for you, and whether you have any option to get cash instead of an interest in the pension. Most pensions don’t give you that option, but who knows, maybe this one does.

  43. I was divorced in 2012. In the decree my ex was to receive half of my TSP that I earned during the marriage and $35,000 to equalize the marriage. He received a check from TSP for half of what was earned during the marriage. I did not have the money to pay the $35,000. Now my ex took me to court and held me in contempt. The judge issued an order for the money to be taken out of TSP. This money is now $120,000. The judge included the original $35,000 from the divorce decree, plus interest, and attorney fees. Is TSP allowed to cut him a check for this judgement?

    1. If the judge ordered that the TSP pay him that money, and that is served on the plan administrator and determined to be a qualified domestic relations order, then the plan administrator can write the check, if such withdrawals are allowed by the plan.

  44. I will be 65 years old next year. Her attorney when we divorced in 2007 submitted a QDRO for me to sign that I must retire at 65 so my ex can collect her share of my pension the years we were married(20 years). I did not sign the QDRO because if I retire at 65 my pension will be cut in half minus what I owe her along with state, federal, property taxes and basic living expenses. That doesn’t leave me with very much money, even with Social Security(I want to wait till I’m 70 to maximize my SS) I will not make enough money to support myself. Plus I enjoy the job I have been working at for the past 43 years.. Is it possible since I did not sign the agreement to simply pay her directly (minus the tax rate)? I do have an estimate form the pension office on how much money I am entitled to during the years were we married.

    1. You certainly can pay her, but that would likely be considered a gift from you to her. And you’ll still have the pension obligation. Consider getting the QDRO rewritten so that it doesn’t say you have to retire. She should be able to begin collecting her portion at the earliest date at which you can retire, so if you could have retired at 65, she can collect even though you continue to work.

  45. I was awarded part of my ex husbands retirement during our divorce. A QDRO was filled out and filed. My attorney informed me I would not receive the money until he actually retired. Which he just recently did. How do I go about getting my funds ? This is from both a military and state pension.
    Thank you.

  46. I was a stay at home mom for most of my 17-year marriage – when my ex filed for divorce, he got himself a great attorney while I had to settle for a crackerjack lawyer because I had no money. (he took all of the $ out of the household upon separation). I was awarded 50% of his pension through a QDRO which would be paid by either or both of us. Fast forward 16 years – he met someone and wanted to finalize this last step in our divorce decree. He had a lifelong position in a company that does pensions and insurance and offered to have their 3rd party actuarial company do it and he would pay a lawyer also since I never recovered financially. He got an estimate done on what I would be entitled to and had his lawyer write something up for the plan administrator. The plan said no to the wording until the 3rd attempt. I was given the monthly amount and told that since the company he works for considers age 60 to be full retirement, I would be able to collect my benefit when I attained that age. I had no reason to feel as though I was being misled – he works for a major corporation and retirement benefits are what he’s done all of his life. So I agree. Fast forward 2 years. I call the company and start asking questions on when I can start my benefits – I am told, if I start at age 60, I will receive a 6-year reduction in benefits because I am not the employee. Ugh. Ok, I will wait. I then find later in the year, that he decided to start his own consulting business and will retire the first of the month following his 60th. Lucky him. Because he did that, I was forced to take my 50% at the reduction that I declined because the Plan states the supplemental payee’s benefit must begin once the employee begins receiving his benefits. So now I am receiving almost 1/2 of what I should have gotten. Seems pretty unfair to me. If I don’t have my own account and am considered a supplemental payee without any beneficiary needs because if I pre-decease him, my money goes back to him, shouldn’t he be responsible for paying the taxes on the whole enchilada? I’ve asked for a copy of the plan so I can see where all of this is stated – no response. I asked to see the QDRO calculation of my benefits – no response. I am completely in the dark and feel like I’ve had nothing but disadvantages at every turn. The snarky actuary told me my divorce decree means nothing against the plan – the plan is written in stone – but why isn’t any of this information supplied to me? I know he lied to me although he did pretend that he didn’t know. But how do I know what the plan states? And how much was actually earned (and divided) with to and from dates? He’s had the upper hand all the way and took advantage of my curbside life. It’s disgusting. I would recommend all spouses to skip the costly QDRO and settle on a trade-off or buy-out or another means of splitting retirement benefits at the time of divorce.

  47. I’m a retired GM worker from Ohio. I am divorced from my wife and am told that she is entitled to a portion of my retirement given the amount of years I worked which was 39 and the amount of years I was married which was almost 27yrs. I am 60 yrs old, (too young to receive social security) so I’m riding on a retirement supplement from my job of $3170.00 a month until I’m 62 then my partial social security benefit would kick in. Is there a specific formula that must be followed in paying my ex spouse a portion of your retirement, because she is trying to take me to court to receive 80% of half of my total retirement granted she has already received her portion of my 401K through the QDRO? I have to live after retirement and if she gets what she’s trying to get that would leave me somewhat destitute as far as I see it. Could you give me your take on this?

    1. Look at your divorce agreement to see what portion of the pension she was awarded. If the pension wasn’t brought up during the divorce, she may be able to open up the divorce case to get it divided however your state law provides.

  48. I have a huge question so me and my ex husband are now divorced since august and we both settled on me getting 50% of what he made in the years that we were married. 2009-2015 after we settled and signed the divorce paperwork in front of a judge she declared we were finally divorced. I contacted him a few times regarding the 401k recently and he said he submitted the paperwork with his work. (i’m not sure what paperwork it was) and that when he retires ill get my money. I am only 28 and he is 30 years old. Ive been told that I can get my part of the money of course with them taking a 10-20% chunk out, but I dont mind im sleeping on the floor working for pennies and would like what is entitled to me to get a little head start.

    1. In order for your portion of the plan to be securely in your name, you must files a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) with the plan administrator. The QDRO must be signed by both of you, so whatever he filled out at work wasn’t what is necessary to secure your portion. In the QDRO you can provide that the funds are to be paid directly to you, if you want to spend them now rather than saving for your retirement. They will withhold at the going tax rates, and then you’ll report the income and withholding on your tax return for the year of withdrawal, and pay any additional taxes due.

  49. My spouse’s attorney is holding the QDRO’s although they were approved a year ago. She does not have a stay and although we divorced over a year ago. This same attorney had my bank accounts frozen since my case is pending appeal. I was unable to get a stay from the appeals court. Later a lawyer filed for an automatic stay pending appeal. The Judge through it out without a hearing for the “surety” Although this same attorney told the court that I was holding up the QDRO’s that they never signed – I printed a copy – signed and served them on her. She then stated “we decided not to sign them” pending the Judge’s decision on the freezing of my accounts. This lawyer had my accounts frozen since I had no stay – yet she doesn’t have a stay for the QDRO’s and is doing what she said i was doing – what to do?

    1. The QDRO is not in effect until it is approved by the plan administrator. I don’t know what impact it has that “the attorney is holding the QDROs although they were approved” means. If the were approved by the plan administrator, then I would think that is sufficient and the attorney couldn’t interfere. It sounds from the rest of your message that they were never signed and submitted to the plan administrator for their approval. If that is the case I guess you’ll need to return to court to get the judge to intervene.

  50. I have a signed DOPO approved by OPERS to receive 50% of my ex’s pension. He is at retirement age, but refuses to retire because he does not want me to receive this money. Is there anything I can do?

  51. My Exhusband Died in 2017 from cancer. He was only 50 years old when he died. He had been married for nine years to his current wife, now widow. His widow is younger than me she is 37, I am 51.
    I have two children with my ex-husband, the current wife had no children with him. When my ex-husband died my oldest child was 18, the youngest was 15. I am already collecting Social Security on the youngest child.

    My question is, am I allowed to collect my ex-husband’s social security? Because I am older than his current wife, and I will be eligible to receive it first, because of my age being older.
    Also, my ex husband and I were married twice. We were married the first time for a little more than four years. The second time we got married, we were legally married for almost 10 years, but the last five years of the marriage we were living in separate residences.

    I feel because I was married to him twice I should receive his Social Security, and his current wife should not receive it. And also because I am older and will be able to receive it before she is able to.

    1. Since you are the parent caring for a child under sixteen of a deceased worker, you are entitled to benefits worth 75% of the deceased worker’s benefit amount. The child is also entitled to a survivor benefit equal to 75% of the deceased parent’s benefit until the child turns 18 (or 19 if still in high school). When you are age 60 you can collect reduced surviving divorced spouse retirement benefits. Don’t concern yourself with what his widow can receive, it doesn’t affect what you receive.

  52. My ex husband died from cancer in 2017, he was 50. I am now 52. We have 2 children together. When he died our oldest was 18 and the youngest was 15. I have collected social security for my 15 yr old.
    Am I allowed to collect his social security early. He was remarried and had been married to current wife for 9 years. I was also remarried at the the time of his death, but I am divorced now. My ex and I were married twice. The first marriage only last 4 years the 2nd marriage legally lasted 9 years, though we were living separately the last 4 years of the 2nd marriage.
    His current wife is younger (37) and she is power of attorney and trustee of everything. He was in a lot of debt and had tax problems.
    My question is, will I be able to collect his social security? Because of his ex wife being younger, and me being older, and able to collect sooner than her.

    1. As the caregiving parent of a child under 16 of a deceased worker, you can collect benefits. But it doesn’t sound as though you will be entitled to retirement benefits since you weren’t married for 10 consecutive years.

  53. I’ve been divorced 7 years, we we”re married over 10 years. In the divorce, I was awarded a car that he bought for our daughter (didn’t receive it) and a portion of his retirement. I’ve since lost the divorce decree. I don’t know who his retirement plan is through. He has since remarried. Is it anything I can do about the car? I didn’t have the funds to fight for the car. How do I find out about his retirement?

    1. Get a copy of your divorce agreement from the clerk’s office in the court in which it was filed. The name of the plan should be stated there, and you will need to have a specialist draw up a Qualified Domestic Relations Order to serve on the plan administrator of the plan. As for the car, you’ll need to find out how to force his performance — you may have to ask an attorney if there isn’t someone in the clerk’s office who can tell you.

  54. In 2009 we filed our QDRO for my ex LACity fire pension/retirement. Our divorce was final in 2002, He recently told me he is retiring from la city in 3 yrs after 40 yrs of employment. From reading the above Q&A I see that the plan adminstrator should have been served the QDRO. This is the 1st I heard of this. How can I find out who this is and if they have been given the filed court QDRO

  55. I’m trying to get divorce , my husband want to have share with my 401k hos retired and his only means of income is social security and he don’t have investments in life. Been married for 22 yrs and for that marriage yrs we have his only working for about 5 yrs. the retired. I was the one providing hos health insurance until now. My question is do you think the court will granted his wish about my 401 k. I leave in Michigan and no minor kids involved in the divorced process

  56. Divorce after 35 yrs received half of his Sep to my Ira transfered. Over 59.5 yrs who pays the taxes on withdrawal me or him?

  57. Hello, Reading all the questions and answers from you have been beneficial. My husband retired last May 2017; we have been married 10 years. His ex- wife recently just filed a Domestic relations order. They were married 17 years and in the divorce decree states her entitlment to his Pension. Well,all this time has gone by and he has been receiving his benefits for the last year already. Can we contest this? They have been divorced this long and we have been married for 10 years. Thank you

    1. Since his divorce agreement says she is entitled to part of his pension, then she is entitled to it. Any chance he had of having that agreement set aside have surely expired during the 10+ years that have passed, but he can certainly consult an attorney in the state in which he was divorced to find out. I’m not an attorney and not qualified to give you legal advice.

  58. my name is wanda f foster,i was married to mayburn e. foster,jr. we where married 23years, I worked and helped send him to college. we had 3 beautifull kids. 2 boys and 1 girl. this man cheated on me from first day. he drank and gambled ,you name it he did it. my children and I went through pure hell. he mentally abused us and my children suffer really bad right now from his abuse. my middle son really needs mental help and it is all because of eddie foster.
    he kept his retirement funds from me and tried to keep social security from me. all 3 of my children hate him so bad they do not even want to hear his name. I just recently found out that he had a benebfit or 401k that he has kept from me all these years. that is suppose to be half children and I deserve everything we can drag out of him…if is ashame men are so sorry. I am asking GOD to ask you to help us or me to get those benefits that he is cheating me out of. I heard he is getting 3800.00 mt. and I only get 1100mt. I wear goodwill and he goes to best shops. he is sending his chec right now to Africa to he says to save the elephants. we all think he is nuts. fter all he has done I do not care, but I do want what he owes me.

  59. Divorce just finalized. QDRO has not even started yet. 401k of mine and 2 pensions from ex spouse is going to be equally divided by order of the court. How will we each be able to save our part? Will i be able to save my 50% on my own 401k or an ira? Does it matter if its a 401k or pensions? I ask because my attorney indicated that my ex spouse would have to open an ira account and not me, but it makes no sense. My x spouse is not trustful and i would not want my ex spouse to save my 50%. Please help.

    1. In general, QDROs for pension plans provide that your share of the pension funds will be paid to you as soon as he is eligible to retire or does retire. QDROs for defined contribution plans such as 401ks usually provide that your share will be rolled into an IRA that you open in your name to receive those funds. Most IRAs do not require a QDRO to divide, and usually the plan custodian will roll your share into an IRA in your name. You can then transfer those funds to an IRA at a different financial institution if you like.

  60. Do Plan administrator (his company) for 401k and Custody for IRA provide information to me if I request ?
    11 years of marriage. Very painful divorce was finally finalized in 2013 after escaping to DV shelter with the children in 2009. I was entitled 1/2 of ex’s retirement accounts (IRA and 401K). But QDRO haven’t been completed yet. Under all kinds of abuse and controlling, I have no financial information at all. Everything was in his hands. He provided retirements information to QDRO’s specialist I hired 2 years ago finally but he refused to provide it to me and QDRO’s specialist also refused to provide copies to me that they received from ex. There is a few questionable things in calculation (tracing) for draft QDROs that the specialist wrote up. I just discovered he did withdraw a part of money and hid it. How can I get information of ex’s retirements accounts?
    Divorce division was very very unfair. Ex hid more assets and I could get nothing. Plus, all my hard work saved money before marriage was stolen, ex’s personal loan from my mother (her hard worked saved money) wasn’t repaid (large sum). These retirement is only money I could get. I don’t want to give up anymore.
    Thank you very much.

    1. Once the QDRO is in place then you can get information from the plan administrator. Until then, he has no authority to release any information to you. To get information sooner, you’ll need to have your attorney subpoena it or your husband request it and provide it to you.

  61. My husband has stock options that aren’t transferable, therefore, he will execute the stock, sell shares and give me the appropriate amount minus the “appropriate amount of tax implications that he will incur”. I have two questions:
    1. How can I find out if the amount he is taking out for his tax implications is accurate?

    2. Once I receive these monies via QDRO, will I be taxed for them as income?

    1. He will receive a notice of exercise showing the taxes that were withheld from the transaction, so you can see if he’s giving you the correct amount. Since the transaction is reported on his tax return as the sale of his options, you shouldn’t have to report them and pay tax on your tax return.

  62. What if your husbands retirement plan does not recognize Quadro’s, and that practice has been in place for years and recognized by the Courts, and he pays you directly. How do we each report the income?

    1. If he pays you the pre-tax gross amount, then he’ll nominate it to you on his tax return (likely on line 21 of Form 1040), and you’ll include it on your tax return as income, also on line 21. If he pays you after-tax (post-tax amount), then he’ll pay the tax on it and you won’t pay tax.

  63. I have a court ordered document stating that I receive 50% of my husbands pension, but no QDPRO. We divorced in 2000. He was fired from the Federal Government in 2010. How do I find out if he received his pension already; and if so what are my options? I don’t know if the order was submitted to his Personnel office. What’s the best route to take?

    1. You need to get the federal government’s functional equivalent of a QDRO filed and served. For pensions it is the Court Order Acceptable for Processing or COAP, and for the Federal Thrift Savings Plan it is referred to as a Retirement Benefits Court Order.

  64. My divorce was final in january 2018, there was a charge to have the retirment split of $800.00. We both paid half of that but i still havent received anything yet. How long does that take?


    1. The Qualified Domestic Relations Order will need to be prepared by someone, then served on the plan administrator to divide up the plan. It sounds as though you haven’t received the QDRO yet, so contact the person drawing it up to find out when it will be ready to be signed and served. Once it is served, the plan administrator has several months to approve it, but it should take less than that.

  65. My court order was approved and filed with OPM Office of Personnel Management COBB Court Order Benefits Branch. My ex husband retired from the USPS 2 years ago and has been receiving his FERS benefits. I have not gotten my portion of his benefits. So far I’ve called 5 contact numbers at OPM and they told me the funds are set aside for me but have not been distributed. Two weeks ago they told me to fax my direct deposit information. I followed up today and still no process for funding. I can even get the Retirement Claim #. They say be patient.

    1. I am going thru this w/ RR Retirement. They said it would be AT LEAST 90 days. I mailed them direct deposit info certified return receipt over a month ago w/ a tracking # showing it was delivered. I did a follow up call this week, they claim THEY NEVER GOT IT. The person on the phone told me she would take my info & email legal. I don’t trust them so I snail mailed again a dup of what I sent last month & will do a follow up in 2 weeks. I even got a green return receipt card signed & gave the name over the phone, they said they never even heard of that person! I am trying to keep records of phone calls & emails & snail mails so I can prove this if necessary.

  66. Susan M Katsock

    My husband and his ex divorced in 2000. They had a QDRO in order. He paid his half to have it worked out (she wanted it done and agreed to pay half) but she dropped the ball and never paid her half. So an order was never signed. What happens now?

  67. Good afternoon, my parents legally separated in 2003 and there was a QDRO in place and she was receiving half of his annuity. Unfortunately, he passed away 2 months ago and she is very nervous and thinks that she will no longer receive the annuity payments. They stopped as soon as my father passed away. OPM – He worked for the post office and Office of Professional Management said that it takes months for them to approve or deny the claims. If there was a court order in place to receive half of his annunity while he was alive, will she continue to receive them now that he has passed away? Please help and thank you very much in advance! He also had a life insurance that he never updated and there were other beneficiaries listed. I assume they get his life insurance benefit.

    1. If she doesn’t have the court order paperwork that answers this question, she should contact the plan administrator to find out what the plan provides. It is possible that her benefit was separated out from his with the QDRO and she’ll continue getting hers. As for life insurance, it goes to the people listed as beneficiaries.

      1. Thank you very much. I really appreciate your answer. Hopefully this will bring her some peace of mind. I have been reading about these situations online and the answers seem to lead in her favor. Her attorney advised her not to get a divorce and to get that QDRO. She was granted half of his annuity which she receiving on a monthly basis because of the QDRO







    I ALSO ASKED: “Also, I was concerned because the 2 previous submissions (Oct & Dec 2017 for pre-approval on the language for the QDRO) seemed to be IGNORED by the MTA. Legally, are they ALLOWED to do that?

    I know the MTA in NYC is a HUGE entity & the pension dept. is probably understaffed, but I feel like their lack of response/holding up my payments seems to be in violation of SOMETHING.

    I know I am jumping the gun, but what do you do if they IGNORE the court ordered QDRO???”


    “A Retirement Plan has 18 months to formally qualify a QDRO before any legal action can be taken against them.”




    1. This is what I was able to find at the US Dept of Labor website:
      During the period in which the status of a domestic relations order is being determined, the plan administrator must take steps to ensure that amounts that would have been payable to the alternate payee, if the order were a QDRO, are not distributed to the participant or any other person. The plan administrator’s duty to separately account for and to preserve the segregated amounts is limited in time. ERISA provides that the plan administrator must preserve the segregated amounts for not longer than the end of an “18-month period.” This “18-month period” does not begin until the first date (after the plan receives the order) that the order wouldrequire payment to the alternate payee.

      So it looks as though the plan is required to hold back your share of the funds and not pay them to the employee spouse.

        1. Does that mean 18 months from the actual signed order from the court or the plan administrator approving the QDRO? I was in touch with the US Dept. of Labor and I was told once the plan administrator approves an order all is put on hold. Since the financial institution is aware there is an actual order pending. Yet the institution holding the pension and profit sharing stated the “accounts” are on hold unless they receive a document that I waived my rights to it. Yet the company who put the QDRO’s together said the profit sharing is only held for 18 months. So I find your answer interesting since I was told 18 months but from the time the approval letter came – approving the QDROs that need to be signed by the court. This all gets so confusing. Especially when you have a difficult x. Thanks.

  69. I was divorced 14 yrs ago and a QDRO (Qualified Domestic Relations Order) was granted. It’s coming up on the retirement age for receiving the QDRO. I was told, I would receive it when he retires. Will I hear something from his company prior to his upcoming retirement? When I was divorced, was my Lawyer, my husbands Lawyer or was I supposed to file the QDRO with the Court and his Company? And if so to any one of those, how do I check that it was filed? I don’t want to be expecting it and 6 months later still in the dark as to what happened to it. I want to make sure I have my ducks are in order. Please help…

    1. Since the QDRO was prepared and presumably filed with the plan, contact the plan administrator to ask your questions. If they don’t have record of the QDRO, you will know that it was never filed with them and that you need to do so.

  70. I am currently going through a divorce and my former husband will be taking half of his 401k to give to me as part of the settlement. We are both over 60. I will have no other money as I gave up everything when I married him 5 yrs ago and moved from NYS to Texas. Can he just withdraw the money or is a qdro necessary? We currently live in Texas but I will be moving back to NYS. I know the money I receive is federally taxed but there is no state income tax in Texas. If the money comes to me after I move to NYS will it be taxable there?

    1. If your husband is retired and eligible to draw on his 401(k) without penalty, he could draw that out and give it to you, but he would owe tax on his withdrawals from the 401(k). If you want to roll it into an IRA in your name tax-free and make withdrawals as you need them, paying tax when you make withdrawals, that will require a Qualified Domestic Relations Order. When you do take taxable withdrawals from a plan, it is taxed under the state laws of the state in which you reside at the time of the withdrawals.




  72. I am going get a portion of my ex wife’s teachers pension through a qdro. We where married for over 20 years and the amount is substantial. If she wants to buy me out of my portion lets say she gives me half of the value, what is the best way to go about it? Can I take a lump sum cash payment and will it be taxed? She received the house in the divorce and it is also worth a substantial sum , she may sell it to buy me out.

    1. If she buys you out of the pension and she pays you cash she gets from the sale of the house or some other source, she likely will want to discount the amount she pays you. That’s because she is buying you out of the pension which will be taxable income to her when she receives payments at retirement, and she will be giving you cash which is a non-taxable property settlement.

      1. Thank you so much for the quick response. What buy out % of the value do you think would be fair? I was thinking 50% .

  73. My ex has a defined benefit plan with his ex employer. I’m supposed to receive $300/mo from it. We did a QDRO at divorce. He’s 65 now and I’m 55. If he’s collecting his pension, could I collect also or do I need to wait until I’m retirement age?

  74. Divorced 2 years, I get a spousal support payment and then an extra amount from his monthly retirement. Do you know if I have to file that as spousal support? He also had a TSP (Thrift Savings Plan) that I’m still waiting on that was agreed upon in divorce of 50% he did 20 years military and now works Federal. Just not sure how to file it when I do my taxes hope I explained this good enough thanks in advance for your help

    1. If the amount you get from his monthly retirement was characterized as spousal support in your divorce agreement, then it is spousal support. Once the paperwork is complete to transfer the portion of the TSP that is your to your name, do so right away. When you retire and begin taking payments from it, you will report those payments as retirement income.

  75. My ex husband and I are in the process of completing QDRO of one of his retirements that he is already receiving monthly payments. After the process is completed will i receive a monthly check also. Im 51.

  76. I got a NYS divorce in June of 2017, after being married for over 33 years to a man who worked for Metro North RR in NYC. The divorce said I was to get a part (i have details not wanting to post them) of his retirement benes (RR Retirement + NYC MTA). Ex hubby retired in June of 2013 & started getting his monthly checks on 7-1-2013. It’s Feb 2018 now! In August of 2017, he retained ( & I had to pay for 1/2) a QDRO paralegal. He refused to send her a copy of the stipulation of settlement, so I had to do that. I was in touch w/ the paralegal on a regular basis, as I am almost indigent after paying for my divorce & having had 4 surgeries in the span of a couple of years & now losing medical insurance. I do NOT want to apply for any assistance while waiting for the QDRO to hopefully process :0( My employment was minimal over the years as we had 2 disabled children, which I raised & it was a FULL TIME JOB. They are adults now. I am old(er) & basically unemployable. So anyway, The RR retirement said they got the QDRO on Oct 20th, approved the language & responded on Nov.3rd, 2017. The papers went back to the paralegal & looks like she did not submit to the courts till Dec. 18th, 2017. I called the court a few times in Jan. 2018, & on 1-14, was lucky enough to have a kind court attorney call me to tell me he reviewed the papers & the judge would be signing them within days. STILL NO WORD from RR Retirement, when I call them they say they have not yet gotten a response after they sent out a letter on Nov. 3, 2017. My communications w/ the paralegal have been very strained as I felt she lied to me on several occasions & things seems to move very slowly in her office. I told her my ex was retired almost 5 years & that he was hospitalized last fall for 8 days & it was urgent as an OLD(er) person for this to get processed. I’ve basically been doing MY OWN FOLLOW UP. There is also a NYC MTA Pension, that she said was submitted in Oct. 16th but the paralegal was unable to show any PROOF OF SUBMISSION. I sent her a certified letter in DEC 2017 asking for such, where she then “re-submitted” a notarized QDRO to the MTA plan admin. I have yet to hear after 2 months from either paralegal OR NYC MTA that the paperwork was approved, let alone APPROVED to be submitted to the court. In the interim I have been talking to my ex husband sporadically on the phone & even he is getting anxious & fearful about the process. I would HATE to have to file a complaint w/ THE NYS BAR or the NYS Comptroller’s office against either the paralegal & her attorney/boss or the NYC MTA. My objective is to collect the $ ASAP. I am willing to continue to do follow up or even mail things out certified return receipt, etc. SHORT of hiring ( I have no $ left) a new QDRO professional, how can I get the paralegal to “fast track” my paperwork (like it should have been from day 1) & how do I get to be able to communicate w/ the almighty Wizards of the NYC MTA Pension Funds?

    1. Ask the person who submitted the QDRO to followup with the plan administrator and get an estimated time that they expect to approve the QDRO. You can try to do it yourself and maybe they will talk to you, since your name is on the QDRO as well as his. It generally takes 2-3 months before the administrator approves it.

      1. UPDATE: The RR Retirement QDRO is approved & signed by the judge, I got a letter from RR Retirement saying that as of next month they are going to take out the percent of his $ that should go to me & it will prob take 90 days before I get my 1st payment. He has been retired almost 5 years, & I filed for divorce almost 2 years ago. I do recall my divorce attorney telling me that there would be a ‘retro-active’ amount- going forward from the date I filed from divorce till I got my 1st pension check, but the letter I got from the RR doesn’t make mention of that. The QDRO signed by the judge states I get my portion “upon commencement of his benefit (which was almost 5 years ago!) AND completion of paperwork by the spouse”. Does that “AND” clause eradicate the retro-active amount? The MTA (2nd QDRO) still has not responded- after I posted this in Feb. The atty. overseeing the paralegal got a wind of the situation & submitted a QDRO to the judge w/o pre-approval from the plan, stating that 2 QDROS were submitted to the MTA & both were ignored. I don’t see anything in this QDRO either addressing “arrears”. Also, when I spoke to my nasty ex on the phone, he said he “didn’t give a F__K how long it took, bec. the longer it took, the longer he gets his full amount & I get nothing”. Can a plan legally delay processing of an ex spouse’s QDRO when the plan participant is already retired & collecting $ just to screvv over his ex-spouse? He has been getting $$ for almost 5 years now, me zero :0( PS I found out he was in the hospital last fall BECAUSE HE GOT MERSA ON HIS PENIS. TALK ABOUT KARMA !!!!

  77. Can a Plan Administrator stop 401k funds from being rolled over to an IRA at another financial institution when a separate account has been set up for me according to the QDRO

    1. Once the Qualified Domestic Relations Order has been accepted, the plan administrator must do whatever it says, so if you specified that the funds be rolled into an IRA, that must be done. If the funds are rolled into an IRA at the same financial institution, you can instruct the IRA custodian at the other financial institution to capture the funds and transfer them through the ACAT automatic transfer system.

  78. My ex hubby is retiring at age 62 in April, 2019. We were married for over 15 years. He asked my son to ask me if I can sign a waiver stating I do not want part of his pension. He said if I do that, he will give me some $. Everyone I asked this question to says I should not sign it. I cannot retire for another 6 years and 6 months because I am waiting for full retirement age. He has been at his job for 32 years in Yonkers, NY and is in the Transport Worker’s Union, local 100. I may refuse to sign the waiver and get part of his pension. If I take part of it, will that make his amount less?

  79. Hello,
    My divorce decree states that I will receive 50% of the interest in my X-husbands pension arising out of his employment as of 9/2011 (our divorce date) together with 50% of all increases thereof occurring thereafter, vested or otherwise.
    I received the 50%, but when it states “along with 50 of all increases thereof occurring thereafter, vested or otherwise”…..What does that mean?

  80. Jennifer N Whitehead

    My husband tells me that I cannot have my half of his Thrift Savings Plan until he retires. Others have told me that I can get it when we divorce. Is he trying to pull over a fast one on me? I don’t mind paying penalties for early withdraw but I have three kids and need to buy a house,s o sooner is better than later.

    1. Once you have a divorce decree or other court order that states how much of the TSP is to go to you, you will need to file it with the plan administrator to identify your portion and tell them what to do with it (distribute some or all of it to your IRA, distribute some or all of it to you). It may take a few months for them to review and accept the paperwork. Any funds that go into your IRA will not be taxable at the time they are sent to the IRA. Any funds that go to you will be taxable, but there will not be an early withdrawal penalty.

  81. I received 1/2 of my ex husbands military retirement in court, found out he has been retired for over 12 yrs. How do I go about getting it ?? We have been divorced for 17 yrs now.

    1. If you filed appropriate paperwork with the retirement administration people, then contact them to see what’s happening to your portion. If you didn’t file that paperwork, they have no idea that you have an interest in the military retirement, and so they likely are making all payments to him. If that’s the case, find out what paperwork is required and get it filed so you can begin getting your share of the retirement. As for what he’s already received, talk to an attorney about what legal action you need to take to get the payments to him stopped until it is determined how much he owes you and you reach an agreement as to how you will be paid.

  82. My divorce was finalized in 2015.
    I have the QDRO and it was filed with the courts. I still have not received my half of his retirement, deferred Comp, or the $4000 back spousal support settlement that was to be taken from his half of the deferred comp awarded to me. The retirement company said I cant get mine until he retires. The deferred comp is giving me the runaround and ignoring me. What do I file to get the court to make them pay!

  83. I was divorced in 1998. Everything was settled in the divorce procedures and court ordered by the judge. A QDRO was written up for me to be able to claim my 50% of his pension when necessary, He took an early retirement from his employer of 30 years at the age of 60. I am receiving a monthly payment, however, I feel that the amount I’m receiving is incorrect. Is it possible for an employee to split his entitled monthly pension income into two or more ways to keep me from getting the whole amount that I am entitled to? The amount that I’m receiving, I find it very hard to believe that he is able to live on his half for a month. Our divorce was not pleasant and there were devious things done toward me throughout the divorce proceedings. It would not surprise me that he would do something like what I suggested above.

    Any help to my question is appreciated. Thank you.

  84. I am trying to help my brother-in-law with his QDRO. He is always working and doesn’t seem to have time to deal with this. The QDRO was filed over a year ago but we have heard nothing from the administrator. When I called them to see what was happening they wouldn’t discuss any details with me except to say there was a QDRO in place (this is for a 401K and a pension plan). Is there some way that he can legally give me the authority to talk to the plan administrator?

  85. My back child support was taken out of my ex’s pension last Monday. It’s been a week. Any idea when it will be deposited into my account?

  86. Hello, my spousal alimony will stop when my ex retires, y am supposed to get 50% of his pension, he is eligible to retire early and get his pension from private city govt employer at age 58 on april 2018, my question is, can I also get my portion of the pension if he does? I am 56,

    1. If you filed the Qualified Domestic Relations Order to notify the plan administrator of your share of the plan, they will begin sending you payments at the time that he retires. If you did not, be sure to get that paperwork into place ASAP. If you don’t, they will be paying him the entire amount because they think the entire plan is to go to him.

  87. Cheryl Anne Gray Lesene

    I have been divorced for almost 8yrs amd married for almost 14. My ex is leaving his job and pulling out his 401k. We never had papers drawn up about his retirement during the divorce. Am i entitled to any money fron his 401k even thou he is remarried.

    1. Look at your divorce agreement to see what you were awarded. If you got part of his retirement, file a QDRO right away to identify your part. If it wasn’t addressed in your divorce, talk to an attorney about opening up your case to divide the account.

  88. if a get a divorce and was not writing on the papers. and i live active and married for 19 years there is something I can do to claim some of his pension money

    1. It is hard to understand your current situation from your post. If you get a divorce, you should make provisions for what portion of the pension you are entitled to receive, and then do a Qualified Domestic Relations Order to receive your portion. If you got a divorce and didn’t make provisions to divide the pension, you should get a court order or written agreement regarding the pension now, and then do the QDRO. If you are still married, but living separately, then you should talk to an attorney about what support you are entitled to.

  89. Looks like I may be heading to a divorce and am trying to figure how to support myself. Been married almost 30 years. I haven’t work for 10 years. Husband is 66 and has retired but I’m only 56. He is able to draw from his IRA. We live in a community prop state, so I SHOULD get 1/2 of his IRA. If we do divorce, do I have to wait until I’m 59 1/2 to draw from the IRA. I would need the money as I don’t have any income.

  90. My sister had a stroke, she understands everything but is unable to speak and has right side paralysis. My sister also is being cared for by myself and parents. My sister is receiving child support arrear payments and her ex-husband who remarried and is now divorcing has informed us that he wants to give my sister a lump sum of money and have a contract notarized that he does not have to pay anything else. The money her ex-husband wants to negotiate a payment for comes from his soon to be ex-wife’ 401k. He says his money is being held and will lose out on it if my sister does not agree to what he wants to give her. My question is, Is this legal?

    1. Can someone please point me in the direction of assistance with this. Our Mother has Power of Attorney for my Sister.

  91. Sabrina c dietrich

    Was awarded half of my husband’s pension in divorce in 2011-2012, can I receive a lump sum payment now, I am 44 years old

  92. I am getting divorced. we both haven’t filed yet- my question is can I get my half before we get divorced? I plan on filing in a few weeks. Another thing, the majestrate (spelled wrong sorry) ordered me to pay xxx amount for child support which I do. we have four kids- 2 came to live with me cause of my soon to be exes mental state. one went back to her after 5 months so the majestrate ordered retro active from the date they arrived to me not the date one left- my ex knew it was a mistake and I questioned her and said I will be going to curt to fix this. she then said if you do i will take your 401k. so I sadly got afraid and didn’t do anything. How do I get that money back or can it be credited to my child support in case I lose my job and fall behind on the child support payments? Will she get in trouble for failure to report the wrong amount? What about the Majestrate? What can I do? and can she take my 401k or even a part of it if we aren’t divorced yet? I moved out and been living on my own for three years. I am actually writing this for my friend he just doesn’t know what to do. please help….. thank you

    1. Ask your attorney for advice regarding the apparent mix-up in dates for the children’s movements between households, to see if there’s anything that can be done. And find out from the attorney what portion of the 401(k) she might receive in divorce under the laws of your state.

  93. I was divorced in 1994 (23 yrs ago) and just now heard of QDRO. I’m now 73 and want to know if I can collect a portion of my ex husband’s pension. I’m not sure who to contact or file this form with since, as far as I know, he had several jobs.

    1. You will need to have a QDRO prepared and served on the administrator for any pension plan in which you were awarded an interest. If he became eligible for benefits under another pension plan in the years after your divorce, those plan benefits are his, unless your divorce agreement specified otherwise.

  94. Everything’s in place for me to get ex spouses retirement. He is getting his , but I still haven’t recieved anything. What do I need to do to get my money?

  95. Hi, all. As others have pointed out in this thread, my ex-husband and attorney have ignored the fact that the verbiage in the divorce settlement, stated that he had 60 days to transfer a specific amount of funds to an IRA rollover. I have provided all information needed for the transfer and it has now been 6 months. No one is responding to my questions, as to when this will be done, etc. In the meantime, I suspect the ex has used those very funds for his own purposes, such as buying a house, etc. and I feel a bit lost on why this is not receiving the attention it deserves. He clearly does not intend to pay. What are the options available to me on my own, to address this? I do not have a qdro and I am confused about its relevance to an IRA rollover account. I had wanted to have one done prior to the final PSA was signed but my attorney didn’t think it was necessary. And, how long does this go unfulfilled or remain outstanding, before it is considered ‘too late’ to resolve, according to an undisclosed time limit? The ex has already exceeded his time limit and is seemingly in contempt of court. I am in Virginia.

    1. A QDRO is not required to transfer funds from an IRA to a divorced spouse’s IRA — the divorce agreement gives the IRA custodian the marching orders he needs to make the transfer, though some require a form or letter to be signed by the IRA holder.
      Apparently your ex has not requested of the IRA custodian that the transfer be made, or else he hasn’t provided the custodian with the documentation needed to make the transfer.
      You can ask the court to order him to notify the IRA custodian, or perhaps you can contact the custodian to see what documentation they would require and provide that yourself. Or if they need someething signed by your ex, you can prepare that and as the court to appoint someone (called an “elisor”) to sign that on your husband’s behalf.

  96. Ginita,
    I was ordered to receive one lump some of $11,000.00 on a QDRO in the state of FL. The judge signed off on the orders & my ex has told his companies 401K provider that he’s in full compliance with the court order. What appears to have happened is that they took the $11,000.00 & opened a 401K plan up under my name with the company he uses. Is that even possible? I was planning on rolling the money over into a personal IRA because the company I currently have a 401K through isn’t that great. Does this mean I’m not going to get the money as ordered until he retires? I work 2 jobs & I’m a single mom that needs some relief to provide time, not money to our daughter. I’d like to be able to cut back on 1 of my jobs. Thank you for your response!

    1. Apparently the QDRO said that they should keep the funds in the plan for your benefit, and so they segregated them into an account for you. You can contact them to see when you can access them, and whether you can roll them into an IRA in your name. In general, you can access the funds without penalty at age 59-1/2 if they are in the IRA, and possibly sooner if they are with the company.

  97. I received a DRO paid a DRO lawyer to do it but he wanted my Divorce lawyer to sign it. I my Divorce Lawyer was no longer obligated to me and would not sign it. I paid this DRO Lawyer to do this and in his web site he says he would do everything but he did not it’s been 4 month’s Can i go back on that DRO Lawyer for lost money

  98. I was awarded child support n half of my ex husband military retirement my ex been paying child support since 2008 but 2013 judge awarded me child support n retirement my ex waive half if retirement for VA disability the rest was left was suppose to be for me but he still have court order at Dfas for child support so my award is being taking out for child support now my ex collects 3700 monthly plus GI bill plus his new job why do my child support have to be deducted out my awarded pay…why ex didn’t use VA to pay what courts awarded me I feel like I been railroaded thru my ex I need answers please he’s been testing retirement since last year n I have only got child support he owes me and I want what’s fair thru the courts

  99. My husband has been divorced for 2 years now. His ex wife has not taken out her portion of his retirement that she was awarded. We received a letter almost a year ago stating she wanted her portion, and haven’t heard back from her lawyer since. Is there a time limit by law in Ohio as to where she must transfer her portion out or she is no longer entitled to it?

  100. My ex passed away 3-23-13 at age 57. We were married on January 1977 for 22 years and we divorced January 1999. He had been with the company 18 years until his death. In our divorce decree, I asked for his pension thru his employer. After his passing, I has to get a QDRO thru the court, which I did since the Courts could not obtain the original documents of the divorce decree from their storage area . The plan is a defined benefit plan for the pension and I only receive 46.00 monthly and no one seems to want to answer how they came up with this ridiculous amount…Do I need to get a lawyer? Where is the other money going since I was his only wife…..
    Help or answers are greatly appreciated.

  101. have a question in 1997 i got divorce and the ex was suppose to give me half of her 401k when she got it!! but she never gave it to me. Now that i am retireing she things she still get half! can someone please tell me is it worth for me to get a lawyer and show her to stop stealing moey from ppl

  102. I divorced my husband in 1988, I was awarded 19% of his Retirement, I have a couple strokes, and really don’t know how to get it. He retired a month a go with I did not know, what do I need to do to get what is owed to me, I need to know the first step or a starting point.

  103. I was married 24 years been divorced 7 he remarried and moved out of state. He retired from a job of 21 years but works at another company now and draws retirement from the job he retired from. I never remarried can I draw off of his present retirement? I am 51 he is 56….

  104. Hi. TY for your advice. I’ve been split unofficially from husband for 2 years, we’ve worked out any loans, and property–except we owe on a house together still. He lives in Iowa in the house, I’m now living in California. I’ve told him he can just keep the house we were buying together. What I’m not sure about is how to handle retirement and 401ks. He mentioned splitting everything–I have more in mine, FYI. I was hoping to not have to get a lawyer to save money and do things online, but it’s all so complicated. Any advice for me?

  105. I was married for 4yrs & divorced my husband in 2007. During the marriage he named me as beneficiary over his retirement funds. After the divorce he never changed the beneficiary & he passed 2yrs ago. Currently I’m still the primary beneficiary but am I entitled to the benefits under South Carolina law? Searching for advice before pursuing the issue. Thanks!

  106. I have court ordered 50% of his pension. I just got my qadro back signed from judge. I just called union to find out who I needed to send it to so that I could receive my half. She said I had to wait until he was at retirement age to get my half. Thats not what I was told. What do you thank?

      1. Barbara Palacios

        Hi and thank you. I’m intitled to 50% of my exhusbands retirement it was never settled in the divorce its been 9 years later, I can’t afford to hire an attorney to file the Quadro what are my options and how hard is it to do myself? If doing it myself how do I get started? Thank you for your service and advice…… Barb

        1. If your divorce agreement says that you are entitled to half of his retirement, then a QDRO can be prepared that reflects that. If it was not settled in the divorce, then you may need to open up the divorce again to get that in writing.

  107. I was awarded half of my husband’s retirement in the divorce agreement. He worked for a company that he was vested in after 5 years and then struck out on his own. I recently found out through a 3rd party that he would be receiving about 4k/ month from his retirement starting in the next month or so, but have no idea where it could be coming from. He is 59 years old sold I don’t think the funds would be coming from social security and if they were would I be entitled to half of his SS? How do I go about finding out where he would be drawing his retirement from and will I need a QDRO to get my portion?

    1. If you didn’t file a Qualified Domestic Relations Order to preserve your right to our share of his retirement account, do that right away. Otherwise you are running the risk of him collecting the benefits that are supposed to go to you, or dying and leaving the benefit that is yours to his own beneficiary.

  108. My wife and I both worked outside the home. We both have pensions. I have worked for the entire time of our marriage (30 years) but my wife did not start her career until about 13 years ago. While I make more money, she gets (as a State employee) a much higher percentage of her salary as retirement…so basically our retirement payouts are about the same. We had tentatively agreed that she would keep her retirement and I would keep mine. We are close to coming to an agreement. :Last week she announced that even though she didn’t want to draw on my retirement, she did want to remain the beneficiary of my retirement benefits should I die. So I asked her, does that mean I should ask to be her retirement beneficiary? She informed me that she was told by her lawyer, since she has been paying into her retirement account for less than 14 year of our marriage, I would not be entitled to her retirement benefits. Sounds bogus to me. Is there some minimal limit of years that is required before retirement becomes communal property? (I live in Missouri, if that matters) I know for social security you have to be married for 10 years for your spouse to be able to draw against it. I’m not talking about Social Security, or my (our) 401K (I am already transferring her a portion of that, as well as the house free and clear).

  109. It depends on how much of his pension he was awarded. If 50%, then putting away his half in a separate account should cover it.

  110. I was married for 21 years and earned the bulk of our income. My ex-husband was awarded 50% of my 401k’s and pensions at our divorce 7 years ago. However, he never filed a QDRO. Now, I am nearing retirement and want to draw on my pensions. Can I just go ahead and draw on my pensions now? (Divorce was very contentious due to his past abuse.)

      1. Ok. If I collect my pensions now and put 1/2 aside in a separate account, then would that cover his portion if and when he decides to cooperate and file the QDRO? (Thanks for your help, by the way. I appreciate it.)

  111. How can I still receive my ex-husband’s pension if we have been married for over 24 years, and divorced for 4, and I don’t think we did a QDRO. I walked away with nothing. He is early retired IMB on benefits.

    1. Look at your divorce agreement and see whether you were awarded any portion of the pension. If you were, have a QDRO prepared right away. If the pension isn’t addressed in the document, talk to an attorney right away about opening up your divorce case for the purpose of dividing the pension.

  112. I was married for 20 years, I was a stay at home wife and mom at his request. Divorced 5yrs ago, four years ago I received half of my ex husband’s 401k. which paid for my return back to school. I have since found out that he also has a separate retirement account. His attorney wasn’t even aware of this separate retirement therefor there is no mention of it in our divorce agreement at all. . Can I still get half of that unmentioned, hidden retirement account and can I get it early so I can pay all of this debt off? I am 55 right now and my home is about to be foreclosed on. I am in desperate need of financial help. His daughter and I are still living in the home.

      1. In my case, state of Florida 2001, we had a Simplified Dissolution of Marriage. No assets were listed, simply states what is in each persons name will remain and each is responsible for their own debt. My husband kept his pension. At this time can I file an amendment to the divorce decree?

  113. Hello. I’ve been reading thru several of these q and a’s. My question has probably already been answered but there is A LOT of stuff to read thru. My divorce was final on June 30th. We had a peaceful divorce. We agreed to everything and HE told me I was entitled to half his 401k. We did NOT have lawyers. The judge awarded us everything as we had agreed, including half his 401k. Now, knowing this… Do I still need to get a lawyer to get my half of the retirement?! Can he get a hold of his 401k people to get it taken care of?

    1. You will need to have a Qualified Domestic Relations Order prepared and filed with the plan administrator for the purpose of dividing the plan. The plan administrator must have that document to transfer your share of the plan to an IRA in your name.

  114. I know it’s a long one, but appreciate any comments. Thanks in advance!

    Divorce was finalized in state of CT in June 2012 with a provision to equally divide my $24,000 retirement savings (the agreement wording says $24,000 IRA, but I have a 401K – are they regarded as one and the same by the Court? – or do you think this was a mistake?) by QDRO and the filing fee to be equally shared as well.

    1. The QDRO was never filed as the ex wanted me to pay the entire fee and I refused.
    2. I have since moved from CT to FL – does this have any bearing on the QDRO if filed now?
    3. He has since remarried – does that make any difference in the settlement or QDRO filing?
    4. Got a call from him yesterday that he is in dire straits and needs the money. I have no problem giving him what he’s entitled to by the divorce agreement. However, he says he calculated and $17,000
    would help him get out of the rut he’s in (some business issues etc). I told him the divorce agreement provided for equally dividing $24,000 which is $12k. He mentioned that his portion must have accrued interest. But the divorce settlement made no mention of interest or extra provision, just cut and dry equally splitting $24,000 – which at the time was the value of the account. So I told him he is only entitled to $12,000 per the divorce agreement.
    5. I am more than happy to file the QDRO so he can have what he’s entitled but no more and again looks like he wants me to absorb the entire filing fee. At this point I just need to have this all done and not drag on any more, so I will bite the bullet and pay the entire fee. Would I be violating the court order on this part since it stated we were to equally cover the filing fee?
    6. He wants cash and will not be rolling to an IRA, will he and I both be taxed/penalized since I’m under 59 1/2?
    7. Lastly my company was just acquired and is finalizing the deal to move the 401k plan to another investment company. Everything will be wrapped up in September 2017 and was told I (all employees) won’t have visibility/access to their 401K until then. Would the QDRO now be served to the new plan and do I need to wait till September to file it and have it submitted to the plan administrator.

    Thanks in advance for your advise/suggestions.

    1. He is entitled to what was awarded in the divorce agreement, no matter where you live and no matter what his marital status. If the divorce agreement says you will split the cost you should pay your half. If he wants to direct in the QDRO that he will get the funds himself instead of rolling them into an IRA in his name, then he will have to pay the tax on the funds he receives. There is no penalty since he will be getting the payments pursuant to a QDRO. The QDRO will be served on the administrator of the plan at the time it is served. If you want to give him a different amount than is specified in the divorce agreement, you will have to do a modification to the agreement. If you don’t then leave it the way it is — sounds like it is very clear about what he gets. If you want to pay the entire fee to get it done, that probably doesn’t have to be changed in the divorce agreement.

  115. I receive 8% of my spouse’s pension each month is this taxable income for me an a tax deduction for my spouse. The divorce decree does not grant me alimony. We live in FL

    1. It sounds as though you were awarded a portion of his pension as property settlement that was reflected in your divorce agreement. If the pension plan is sending you the check directly, then they will issue you a 1099R at the end of the year showing your income from the pension. If your spouse was ordered to pay this to you, then he likely will “nominate” the income to you by subtracting it on line 21 of his tax return, showing that he received it on your behalf and giving your name and social security number, and you will report it as income on line 21 of your tax return, showing that he nominated the income to you.

  116. Hilda G Alzatti

    I have been divorced for over 17yrs but I was married for 19yrs,. I started out with a lawyer during my divorce but couldn’t afford it but I was award half of my husband penions and was never told that I had to file a QDRO. I just found out but I have my divorce paper stating that I was granted have his pension is it to later for me to file.

    1. File a QDRO as soon as possible. Hopefully it isn’t too late, and your husband has not removed the funds. But if you find out that is the case (after you file the QDRO) you will need to start legal action to recover from him what you were awarded in your divorce.

  117. Hello Ginita,
    Thank you so much for helping many people in these kind of situations. I’ve being divorced since 2013 after 30 years of marriage and I have the approval for collecting my portion from his retirement and he will also allowed to do from mine; stated in the court settlement but I had no clue about the QDRO and I did asked many people what was next and they all said wait until you retire and the government will be in charge but now He is just about to retire and I still have 5 more years before i do so, I’m so afraid that He might have taken most of the money out of his plan and I will not get much because sadly He will do it if He had a chance, and violate any law. I don’t have contact with him and I know a littlle from my daughters. I’m struggling financially and is it to late for a QDRO and who sure I go to? Please guide me! from CA

    1. And that is why you should get a QDRO in place as soon as possible, so the plan administrator knows that you are entitled to a portion of the plan and doesn’t pay it to him. It is not too late, so ask your attorney to give you the name of someone who can prepare a QDRO. Or you can call a family law attorney office and ask who in your area prepares QDRO. Or contact a QDRO preparation service such as and see if they can do it, and if not, who they recommend.

  118. I was married for 18 years and my ex-spouse died a few months after the divorce. There is a QDRO of which I have rolling into my own IRA.
    Question is , I have been asked to sign off as the beneficiary of the 401k by his guardian now and I want to know if I am entitled to receive the rest of the money in the 401k since I am still listed as beneficiary.

    1. That’s a question to ask an attorney familiar with the laws of your state. In some states, a divorce breaks the beneficiary designation of an ex-spouse, so if yours is one of those states, you would get only what you were awarded in the divorce.

  119. My ex was ordered to do the quadro on 8/8/2016. He has yet to do it. I have spent over $125000.00 trying to get divorced and can no longer afford a lawyer. Would I need to file a motion of contempt, and would it be reasonable for me to ask that a third party do the quadro at my ex’s expense?

    1. I do not know what a motion of contempt involves or what it gains you. As far as I know, you can engage someone to prepare the QDRO, and the QDRO would have to be approved by both of you. The person you engage to prepare it will be looking to you for payment, no doubt. Whether you can recover that cost or some part of it from your ex, I don’t know, that’s a legal issue.

  120. i will receive a deferred compensation pension of about $35,000 from my ex during divorce settlement will this affect my social security disability benefit payments that i am already receiving?i am not getting any other but SSD, if someone knows please give some info, thank you

    1. the i will receive a deferered compensation pension from my ex during divorce settlement will this affect my social sscurity disability benefit? compensation benefit i will receive comes from my ex City government job

  121. My divorce decree is going to state that I am entitled to all of my x husbands IRA’s. After a QDRO is signed, sealed and delivered to the plan administrator. What does my x have to do legally to have these transferred solely to my name, to do with as I please. Does he have to sign something? My x is a narcissist, so if he can get away with something underhanded he will try. I want to have all my i’s dotted and t’s crossed. What besides the QDRO do I need outlined to protect myself

  122. I filed a QDRO and it was accepted. 8 months later still have not received anything. I received voice mails, texts stating it would be on this day then that day and nothing! I guess there isn’t anything I can do. I guess I will never receive my portion that was signed off on by a judge and filed by an attorney. He got everything and I got 1/2 of the annuity, which apparently I will never receive!

      1. I contact them once a week as a follow up. I have my own Annuity set up and ready to receive the monies so I have to keep giving updates on what is going on. Ex husbands fund office just keeps giving me dates such as the Funds were to be available for transfer May 10, 2017 , last text I received. Yet May 10th has came and went and still nothing. They just keep saying that over an over. How long can they legally hold the monies?

  123. Patricia Dougherty

    Hello my ex.husband got two pension and his lawyer told me that and he responded he told him to be fair .. but not that fair” so any who…we was not legally separated when he started the second pension” is it true i can still get it since we were not legally separated and still was seeing each other??he is now re-married. but states i should not go after the last pension” thanks for your time.

  124. What happens when the employee dies before retiring, leaving 2 ex- wives, neither filed qdros, and there is a listed beneficiary?

    1. IIf the former wives were awarded a portion of the retirement plan, they need to assert their rights. Otherwise, the funds will go to the beneficiary, and the former wives will have to go after that person for their funds.

  125. I have been recieving half of my ex retirement since 2014. I just got remarried and he thinks he doesnt have to pay this any longer. On my divorce decree its under maintence which it isnt and it also says ..per 2.12 of Finding of Fact… what does that mean? Im not sure where to go from here.

  126. My husband completed his retirement papers and sent his divorce decree/psa to the plan administrator of his pension. His ex-wife is to receive a portion of it. The plan administrator contacted him regarding the QDRO and we don’t believe the ex ever did one. Can he request his portion be sent to him and leave her portion in the plan until she files a QDRO? Also, if she never files one what would happen to the money, would it revert to him upon her death?

    1. Ask the plan administrator what can be done. Even if she doesn’t file the QDRO, she still has a right to the funds according to your divorce agreement, so if those funds are paid to you she likely has a right to collect the funds from you. So getting her to file the QDRO is likely to be the best thing to do.

  127. Betsy H Musson


    I have a question regarding taxation on early withdrawal on my ex-husband’s pension. I was in the process of working with a QDRO attorney with whom my ex-husband was going to jointly participate. He stalled the process, and unknowingly to me cashed in his pension early. He incurred penalties on the early withdrawal. I was not consulted, nor was I given an opportunity to have my share automaticallty rolled over into a IRA to avoid taxation. We had a divorce decree in place that specified how much of his pension I was to receive. He eventually paid me the funds minus penalties after a lapse of time. My question is this…who is responsible for paying taxes on the money since it was his sole decision and paid directly to him? We live in Arizona in case this matters. Thank you!

    1. It’s too bad that the pension plan administrator had not been given notice that the plan was subject to a divorce agreement, so that they could have waited until you got your QDRO in place. Consult with your attorney to see what you can do now.

  128. This is the WORST advise to give.

    A) You will have to invest the money you receive as a retail investor and make prudent calculations.

    B) Opening an IRA makes sense when you have maxed out your 401k.

    C) When you wothdraw the amount you willbe TAXED. It is called tax deferred for a reason.

    D) Please do not make the mistake of taking retirement without thinking through.In fact get someone who knows about investments like a portfolio manager, equity or fixed analyst to provide you with advise. Your run if the mill financial advisor knows jsck shit.

  129. Laura A Ellenberger

    Is there a time limit as to when you can collect half of a 401k as ordered in a divorce settlement through a QDRO? Our divorce was final a good number of years ago, and somehow, the 401K split was never initiated or followed through. And the company now in charge of said 401k monies won’t deal with me, because I wasn’t the plan participant. My Ex (and his wife) refuse to help in this process.
    Can you offer some advice as to what my options are? If I can get a signed copy of the order from the Circuit Court, will that be helpful too?
    Please help, this has been ongoing for years, and I am at a loss as to what to do.

    1. You should contact someone to draw up the QDRO and get it approved and files ASAP. If you don’t know who does QDROs in your area, ask your attorney for a recommendation. They definitely will need a copy of the order.

      1. Laura A Ellenberger

        The QDRO was approved for the Pensions split and the 401k all at once, at the time of the divorce. I am already getting monthly payments from the pensions. That’s why I was asking if there is a time limit to those things. The company that is in charge of the 401k has told me, I’m not able to do anything because I was not a plan participant. And that the ex needs to send in the info to initiate it. And my lawyer was expensive back then and I can’t really afford to have her look into it. I was able to ask her about it previously and all she said was that she would charge me the old rate. I’m just not able to pay that kind of money at this time. I guess what I really need to know is, do the orders expire? Do I have to go through the whole process over and pay someone to get this thing started again? Sorry if there was any confusion, I’m at a loss as to what to do since I have no one to help me for my side of it. I think I can get a copy of the order from the courthouse, so I will look into that then.
        Thanks, I appreciate any help you can give me.
        Laura Ellenberger

        1. Ginita Wall, CPA, CFP

          It sounds as though you are already getting monthly payments, so I don’t know what it is that you want to do.If it is a different plan, for example, you filed the QDRO for the pension but not for the 401(k), then you’ll need to file one for the 401(k).

          1. Laura Ellenberger

            The QDRO was filed for all three. (2 Pension plans and a 401k ) all at the same time. I am getting monies from the pensions, not the 401k. That somehow got lost in the whole process and never initiated. They were all in the divorce agreement and in the court order for the divorce, signed by the judge. Sorry for the confusion. I am looking to find out what I may need to do and if, since it’s been a number of years since my divorce, if a court order for it can expire. I’m just trying to figure out my next step.
            Thank You for your time and patience.
            Laura Ellenberger

          2. If the QDRO was filed and accepted by the plan administrator, contact the plan administrator to see how you access your funds. If the QDRO was never filed and/or accepted, then do whatever is needed to have that happen.

  130. I have been divorced since 2004; I was awarded 30% of spouses military retirement (married 15 years), if I decided to remarry at a later date; does this stop my payments? Can the spouse file to have the payments stopped?
    Thank you.

    1. If you received a share of the military retirement as a division of assets earned during the marriage, your remarriage shouldn’t affect your interest in the plan. You can ask your attorney to be sure, since he/she knows the laws of your state.

  131. I’m considering divorcing my husband on grounds of adultery. I want to make sure I get everything I’m entitled to after 30 years! He retired and gets retirement benefits each month, cashed in his 401K and as an incentive to retire was given a lump sum of over 155K which he says I’m entitled to none and he’s only obligated to pay me alimony for a short amount of time! He bought a new car paid cash while I drive a car that is 15 yrs old and falling apart? What am I entitled to I do work full time but is income was almost triple mine. Thanks for any feedback.

  132. Jeannette M Ennis

    My Divorce Decree States that I receive 50% of his retirement/pension. He will now be ready to retire but he has asked me to take a one time lump sum equal to the amount I would have received over years of collecting. Can he do this? If he gives me the funds wouldn’t I be taxed on it? Or will a QDRO of some sort take care of it?

    1. Oh my, if you were awarded half of his pension, then you should have put a QDRO into place so that you can get those payments, so do that now. The plan administrator may give you a choice of whether to take a lump sum (you’ll probably roll it into an IRA in your name, if you do, to avoid paying lots of taxes now) or you can take monthly payments for life.

      If he now wants to renegotiate the settlement and pay you from some other funds, he can ask for that — it is up to you whether you say yes. If he’s going to pay you cash, that generally isn’t taxable. But you didn’t say what funds he wants to give you.


  134. Can I use you as my divorce atterney? I don’t know dittly squatt about this. How do I get intouch with the plan administrater? And how do I know if I will recieve 1/2 of his retirement and how do I know if he has a pention and if so will I get some of it? Do lawyers take payments, because I can’t afford one unless I do a payment plan. Help please, I need someone like you….please help me I’m alone on this.

    1. Hoo boy, you’d be in world of hurt if you hired someone like me to be your divorce attorney who isn’t even an attorney and doesn’t know anything about the laws of your state. Find someone who does to give you advice about how things work in your state.

  135. My mom & dad divorced several years ago. And in the divorce he was granted 1/2 of what she had in there at the time which was about 8000.00. He’s passed away since then and my mom told me I would be the one to receive it since I was next to kin. My mom recently took an early retirement can I get that money that was granted to him in the divorce. We tired getting the money out when he passed so I could pay for funeral expenses but her work told her she had to retire first before I could get it. So what do I need to do to get my money.

    1. You say that he got 1/2 of “what she had in there”, but I’m not sure what that means, exactly. If he never transferred those funds to an account in his name, and if he never did a QDRO if they are in a 401(k)-like account, then they are still in your mom’s name. If that’s the case, she can talk to her plan administrator about how to get funds out.

  136. I was awarded half of my ex husbands 401k, this was the only thing I received in the divorce. (Besides child support). He kept the house, I asked for nothing. It has been a year since I filed the QDRO. The lawyer initially sent it to the wrong company. The correct company accepted the paperwork in October. they are stating to have to wait for dates for the exact dollar amount due to the company changing hands three times since the award date. My ex husband now states he is going to sue me after I receive the money, because he never agreed to this. He states it was not in the initial agreement, and he never signed off on it that I just randomly asked for it in court and was awarded it. Can he really sue me after I receive this money? He kept everything from our marriage.

    1. Oh dear, the worst person to take legal advice from is your ex. Your ex says that the court awarded you the funds and he didn’t like that. Too bad — since there’s a court order, he won’t have legal standing to sue you (or the judge, for that matter).

  137. My ex-husband is a police officer, and was married to him for 22 years. I received half his pension in my name–all papers were filed by my attorney. I’m 53 years old, and he is 51. I understand he plans to retire in 2 years (after 25 years of service). When do I start collecting the funds? Does it come in monthly payments? I’m confused how this works.


    How do I get my portion, 34% of my ex husband’s retirement benefits? He retired last year, May 27, 2016 at age 51 from a gov job as an ICE agent. I verified that Office of Personal has received and approved my application for a portion of my former spouse federal retirement benefits. But as of today I have not heard anything from them. I was told that I had to wait until he retired. Well he has retired. Now do I have to wait till he turns 65? Do I have to contact them in writing? I have emailed the paralegal specialist that wrote back to me many times by email and she has not responded once. What do I need to do to get my benefits? Please help me!!!

  139. My ex husband retired last year and we had a QDRO complete before the divorce was final. I’m not sure if he is drawing his retirement benefits but if he is and I’m supposed to get half of it, what do I need to do to have that happen?

  140. Priscilla A. Tavera

    Question on behalf of my mother who is 76 years old. My father worked civil service (Lackland AFB) and has recently passed away. My mother mentioned that according to her divorce decree 40+ years ago; she was awarded a portion of his retirement but never new when he retired or ever inquired about it. Who would she have to contact in order to get that process going? Or is it too late for her to claim her portion? She never looked into while he was living because the marriage was one of domestic violence and she just didn’t want to stir the pot and keep the peace. Plus they didn’t keep in contact so she didn’t know when he retired, etc. Any advice would be appreciated.

    1. Priscilla A. Tavera

      I picked a copy of her divorce decree from court house and it does not mention retirement. Is she eligible or did it need to be noted on her decree?

    2. If she was awarded a portion of his retirement and didn’t receive it, she should talk to an attorney to see if she has a claim against his estate. This is why it is crucial to prepare and file a QDRO that pins down your portion of someone else’s retirement.

  141. I just recently was divorced. Our divorce settlement says i am to pay spouse an exact dollar amount out of my 401-K. It has been a few months and my ex-spouse is not pushing or even worried about when the transfer takes place. I think my ex-spouse actually believes the money is probably safer where it sits than if it is transferred to them. My question is, if i just do nothing until say we are both to retirement age would i owe them only the exact dollar amount that the divorce settlement calls for? OR, can i be financially punished by the courts /forced to give more money to ex-spouse for not doing the transfer within the sixty or ninety days of the divorce. And does the legal system actively do follow ups on divorce finals to make sure all proper steps were taken and in a timely fashion. I have been reading some comments on here that people have waited years and years to do the QDRO! Is it okay especially if ex has no issue with it? I just don’t want to get into any hot water on this or owe more than settlement calls for. Thank you very much

    1. So if I’m understanding you correctly, your question is whether it’s OK to take advantage of the ignorance of your spouse? That is between you and your conscience, I guess. As to the legality of it, you’ll need to talk to an attorney to find out.

      1. No, my question to you was do the courts check up on divorce settlements to see if certain things have been handled or not! Plain and simple question. My ex- spouse is the one who ask’d me to get the answer to this specific question. You see, we ARE divorced because of their financial irresponsibility for many years of stealing money from the mouths of my family to feed a severe drug habit! The Ex- cannot be trusted with any sort of money! The ex does not trust self with any money, but wants to have some as an older person someday. Ex knows if i transfer money to where it is accessible to them, then it will be used up quickly for all the wrong reasons. I take offense to your bashing of me!!!! Walk a mile in one’s shoes before jumping the gun!!!!!

        1. Ginita Wall, CPA, CFP

          Now I understand your question better. Your former spouse may pursue the issue down the line, but the courts generally do not follow up.

  142. Bonnie Billington

    I was divorced in September 2015. At the time I missed seeing a survivor annuity clause in the divorce decree but I know my ex did not miss it! I am divorced 18 months in March and wonder if I can or still have time to have this divorce decree amended to include Survivor benefits. OPM supervisors say no but I need another opinion! That box was elected YES at my ex-husbands retirement but he changed it to NO only \4 months before our divorce without my knowledge. I believe he might have forged my name on the retiremnt documents. Rules I read say I MUST consent to this..I did NOT! Can you help me here. EIther to help reinstate the spousal annuity or catch him on a fraud charge?

    1. If he retired during your marriage, the plan is required to pay survivor benefits to his spouse, unless she elects otherwise. If you did not make that election, then that’s what they should have done. Once benefits begin, it is my understanding that the survivor benefit cannot be undone. If your husband began collecting benefits during the marriage electing to have the benefits paid for his lifetime alone, and you did not sign off on that, that is probably not legal under ERISA regulations, and you should take legal action against him and the plan administrator to assert your rights. If he began taking benefits after the divorce was final, he was unmarried and he could forego survivor benefits because he does not have a spouse at that time.

  143. Hi, I have a couple questions. First I am still married, been married since 1989 but I moved out of the house and told him I wanted a divorce about 3 years ago. We still put our checks and paid bills, grocery shopped and everything out of the same account until I had to move and after 3 months of 2.5-3.5 hour commute each way I had to quit my job since my boss couldn’t work with me on my hours. At that point he closed the account and we are now responsible for our own bills. I have had no luck finding a job in the little town I live in or close surrounding towns. I have for the first time in my life had to go apply for food n health insurance at the county. He pays my house payment and the house payment of the house he lives in because they are both still in our names. We are getting a divorce but haven’t started the paperwork. We are trying to do this ourselves. He is trying to buy me out of pension n 401k by giving me vehicles we own. But at what point is the amount of the 401k used? At the time I left or at the time divorce is final?

  144. I have a issue with a 401k myself. I have been divorced awhile. My issue is. I cant afford the laywer to draw up the paperwork required to get my half of my ex husbands 401. So how do i go about getting it?

    1. I also have no 401k of my own and will need this money to help mt live when i retire.i work fulltime. With only social security to fall back on when i retire.

    2. You’ll need a Qualified Domestic Relations Order to be filed with the plan administrator to get your share. If you can’t afford an attorney, you’ll need to figure out how to draw one up yourself. If you want my advice, you can’t afford not to hire someone to draw it up properly, rather than risk never getting the funds because you “couldn’t afford it.”

  145. Thank you so much for answering my question, and for doing it so promptly. I cannot tell you how much peace of mind I now have knowing this. And thank you for doing what you do to help women.

  146. My husband is 64 and retired from the United States Postal Service with a pension. He began drawing his retirement pension last year. Since retirement he is working part time jobs. I am 62, and working full time. I have no pension, just social security. I had planned on retiring at 66. If I were to divorce now before I retire, will I get half his pension now, or do I have to wait until I retire?
    If we divorce, I will begin drawing social security at 66, but I will continue to work as I will need the money.

  147. I have been divorced for about 17 years. On his pension plan it shows that I will not receive anything. At the time he had a lawyer and I did not and I signed the papers now I regret it. Is there anything I can do to change that?