How to Handle Issues with 401K and Divorce

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“I have a question regarding the language in my husband’s separation agreement with his ex-wife pertaining to his 401K. The language reads:

[NOTE: Articles and answers on DearEsq., while written and published by lawyers, do not constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is formed by your reading of this information. You should always consult with an attorney for any legal situations.]

“Until the entry and acceptance of an appropriate court order, the Husband shall maintain the Wife as death beneficiary on not less than 50% …ETC ETC.”

Is “appropriate court order” his divorce decree? Or does he need to file something additional regarding this part of his 401K? There is nothing in the divorce decree that further outlines specifics regarding his 401K. When we got married, he designated me as beneficiary.”

Usually an additional order called a “Qualified Domestic Relations Order” (QDRO) needs to be filed with the retirement fund’s administrator directing them how to divide the fund (in this case a 401K). The Plan needs to be joined to the case, and an order prepared for the judge’s signature. A sample QDRO can generally be obtained from the plan administrator, though sometimes it takes an attorney to get all the i’s and t’s properly dotted and crossed.



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Author: House Attorney

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