Unlocking Spousal Retirement Assets With A Qualified Domestic Relations Order

When thinking of marital assets, you may imagine the house, the car or home furnishings. But one of the most valuable assets is often overlooked: retirement savings. Millions of Americans have a 401(k), an IRA or a pension plan through their employer. And regardless of which spouse’s name is on a given account, chances are good that a portion of the account assets is subject to division in divorce.

I am attorney Michelle Bullock. For more than 20 years, I’ve been helping clients in Western New York with property division and other divorce-related legal matters. Although there are many family law attorneys to choose from in this part of the state, not all are equipped to help you with the complex process of retirement asset division – particularly the filing of qualified domestic relations order, which is critical to accessing your spouse’s retirement assets. I can help you with QDROs and much more.

Why You Need An Experienced Lawyer’s Help

The decision to split up retirement assets – even a judge’s decision – is not enough to make it happen. In many cases, retirement plans are administered at the federal or national level, and plan administrators can only disperse benefits to person or people listed on the account (as mandated by federal law). A QDRO ensures that you are recognized as a joint owner of the account.

If you tried to retrieve benefits without a QDRO, you may be denied access altogether. But even if your spouse was able to gain access to the funds, you both may be hit with tax penalties, early surrender fees and other mechanisms meant to safeguard the funds until retirement. If your ex-spouse were to pass away without a QDRO in place, you could be denied survivor benefits and other retirement entitlements.

When drafting a separation agreement, it is important to have the terms of the QDRO included. Those terms need to be determined and agreed to by the parties in the agreement so that the DRO will not be rejected by the court at a later date which could delay the process of splitting up the retirement accounts – costing you money in the long run. QDROs are not only important – but they can also be complicated. For these reasons, you’ll need to seek the help of an attorney, like me, who has considerable experience with and knowledge of retirement asset division and related court orders.

Consultations Available – Contact Me Today

Based in Amherst, Michelle S. Bullock Law & Mediation PLLC serves clients throughout Western New York. To discuss your divorce and property division needs, call me at 716-919-1421 or fill out my online contact form.