If you divorce (whether before or after Retirement), you or your spouse’s attorney may file a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO). A QDRO is a domestic relations order that has been determined to be “qualified” under the Plan’s QDRO procedures. A domestic relations order is a judgment, decree or order (including approval of a property settlement agreement) that relates to the provision of child support, alimony payments or marital property rights to a spouse, former spouse, child or other dependent of a participant AND is made pursuant to a state domestic relations law. However, a divorce decree or a property settlement agreement are usually not sufficient to act as a QDRO.
A domestic relations order is a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) if it creates or recognizes the existence of an alternate payee’s rights, or assigns to an alternate payee the right, to receive all or a portion of the benefits payable to a participant under a plan, specifies required information, and does not alter the amount or form of plan benefits. An alternate payee is a spouse, former spouse, child or other dependent of a participant who is recognized by a domestic relations order as having a right to receive all, or a portion of, the benefits under a plan with respect to the participant.
Under the terms of a QDRO, certain payments could be required to be made from your benefits to pay alimony, child support, or marital property rights of your spouse, former spouse, child or other dependent. As a QDRO may affect the amount of benefits you will receive or are receiving from this and other plans, if a QDRO requires the distribution of all or part of your benefits under the Plan to an alternate payee, the Trustees are required to comply with the order.
Please note: An order is not considered a QDRO unless you and the alternate payee receive notification from the Plan that the order satisfies QDRO requirements. If you receive a domestic relations order, you should immediately forward it to the Fund Office for review. The order is not effective until it is filed with and approved according to the Plan’s QDRO procedures. It is very important that you follow these procedures as they affect the amount of benefit you will receive from the Fund when you retire. In addition, if you divorce and do not provide a QDRO according to the QDRO procedures before you apply for pension benefits, you will experience delays in the start of your benefit payments. These delays can be avoided if a QDRO is obtained at the time of your divorce and submitted to the Fund Office for approval before the date on which you want to begin receiving your pension. Approval of a QDRO by the Fund Office may take several months, depending on the responsiveness of all parties involved (e.g., your attorney, your former’s spouse attorney, etc.).
The Fund has created model QDRO orders that you and your attorney can use to draft a QDRO. You are not required to use the Fund’s model, however, use of the model will generally assist your attorney, reduce your cost and expedite the review process. If you have questions about QDROs or would like to receive a copy of the Plan’s model QDRO or QDRO procedures free of charge, please contact the Fund Office.
The Fund Office, as a matter of policy, will ask for copies of all divorce decrees (including marital settlement agreements) from all prior marriages of pension applicants. Failure to provide this information may result in a delay in processing your pension application.