There’s a relatively easy way and a potentially very hard way to collect a spouse’s share of the other spouse’s pension awarded in a divorce.
The hard way in many cases is to passively wait for the ex-spouse to send it. Perhaps to e-mail, call or text message the ex.
When things get bad enough (arrears mount), to file a motion for contempt.
Time-consuming, costly and aggravating.
Then there’s the easier way.
To have the pension plan administrator just send it directly to the spouse awarded a share.
No begging, arguing, threatening or waiting.
The spouse on the plan never gets their hands on the money and has no opportunity to interfere with collection.
What wondrous mechanism accomplishes this?
Well, in Florida, former spouses receiving checks directly from their ex’s pension plan administrator know they owe their thanks to a “QDRO“, or a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (and the lawyer who advised getting it).
A QDRO (pronounced “quad-ro”) is a nifty order that a judge signs as part of the divorce.
Although QDROs can be somewhat complex and may cost some money, for the spouse who is not directly on the pension plan, the return on investment can be huge … and the other spouse may well be required to bear the associated expenses.
To appreciate what the big deal is about a QDRO, you’d probably have to talk to someone living in one of the five states that do not recognize QDROs.
Such as Kentucky.
One woman, waiting for her share of her husband’s pension benefits, has instead seen him jailed twice rather than send her her court-ordered share. And still she only receives her share long enough for him to “get out of jail”.
But Kentucky legislators are working on implementing (sadly, reinstating) recognition of QDROs in Kentucky.