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Divorce and marriage confirmation


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Do plan administrations search public records for marriage and divorce certificates?

example would be filling out the pension application to start drawing a regular pension and not checking the divorced box. If you did not check the box saying that you had been divorced do they search public records to verify?

thanks

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The very broad and general answer to your very broad and general questions is negative.

Circumstances matter, because the plan administrator is required to act prudently under the circumstances in following the terms of plan documents and the law.

Treating your example, and adding details and focus relating to the joint and survivor annuity (J&S) rules applicable to most private pension plans, if the participant were on record with the plan as married, and then got divorced, and then retired and applied for benefits without advising the plan administrator of the divorce (and the plan administrator having no other notice or knowledge of the divorce), the plan administrator would likely process the benefit as though the particpant were married and comply with the applicable J&S rules.  That means that the apparent spouse would be  givien information about the survivior annuity benefit and the participant would receive that benefit (with the apparent spouse as contingent annuitant) unless the apparent spouse consented to a different form of benefit.  The plan administrator would not question the marital status.  But that is not the end of it.  By not revealing actual marital status when that status is matierial to the benefit, the participant and former spouse are committing fraud, which, if discovered, would result in consequences too varied and complicated for speculation.  If the participant stated that the participant were no longer married, the plan administrator would probably ask for proof (not automatically search itself), because the spouse of a participant has rights that the plan administrator is charged with protecting.

Your question is redolent of nefariousness. Or are you simply concerned with specific requirements of fiduciary responsibility?  

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I was expecting some of that comment I suppose. I asked the question obviously for personal reasons. I divorced several years ago for reasons not personal with my marriage. We still live together and celebrate our anniversary every year. When it comes time to retire I want to ensure my spouse (not spouse ?) is given the benefits she has earned and deserves for the 30years we have spent together. Our divorce was a necessary requirement for other reasons that personally I felt were absurd.

we did it the cheapest way possible with no qdro. I told her if I died to pretend the divorce never happened and submit the death certificate and marriage certificate to the plan administration. Now I’m coming up on eligibility to retire. I want to choose the 100% pop up option so she is taken care of in the future after my demise.

fraudulent? Morally It’s the right thing to do in my opinion. I suppose we can remarry but then it complicates the other issue that we divorced for in the first place.

thanks for the answer.

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What you are suggesting sounds like fraud and if so is a felony.   

The odd part it you could get the same result legally for minimal cost.  A good divorce lawyer could get a QDRO in place that would get the results without committing a crime. 

Price out a QDRO and don't commit what sounds like a felony.  

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27 minutes ago, Alonzo Church said:

If you don't want to pay for a QDRO, you could remarry before the benefit commencement date and get divorced again after the pension starts. 

Don't commit fraud. You could end up losing your partner his/her benefit.

Is this possible? Get remarried. Start collecting my benefits with the 100% pop up for my spouse option chosen and then divorce again? I’ll have to look into that.

thanks

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For an optional form of benefit, the critical factor is the marital status at the time of benefit commencement. Your plan may have a one-year requirement as to marriage, but most plans do not. As Mr. Zeller indicates, you may be eligible to designate a non-spouse beneficiary as well. (I would assume you know if this were the case already, but it's best to check.)

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