Division of Retirement Plans and Benefits in a Divorce

by Ricardo Barrera

If you are involved in a divorce and have a pension plan, you should be aware that the court can order a portion of your pension plan to go to your spouse. Whether this occurs or not is totally dependent on the factors in your divorce and how the court will decide to divide the property according the community property laws of Texas and a just and right determination by the court. It is also possible that you and your spouse will agree find some other satisfactory arrangement to the court to divide your property without the court having to divide your retirement.

However, if this is to be done, the pension plan in question will require what is called a “qualified domestic relations order” to be signed by the judge so that the distribution can occur. Many pension plans offer model QDRO’s on their websites so that they can be downloaded and provided to your attorney to assist them to draft the order appropriately for your specific type of retirement plan.

You should be aware, too, that just because such an order is put in place, it does not mean that the distribution of the benefit will occur immediately to the receiving party. It is simply the means that allows the pension plan to have the legal authority necessary to distribute the benefit to the receiving partner at the time when the benefit becomes payable.

The Barrera Law Firm is knowledgeable in such divorce matters as QDROs and can guide you safely through the various options that you will have available in relation to your pension plan. It does not have to be a mine field, full of uncertainty. We work to make it as simple and understandable as possible for you.



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