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QDRO for Child Support Arrears

Guest KarenF

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What is the obligation / procedure for getting benefit information from a Pension Plan (this is a Teamster Plan in NY) in order to collect child support arrears?

My CSE agency was refused the information and dropped my case. I expect that I will need to get an attorney at this point, but would like to know if he/she will be able to get this information.

My ex- had disappeared for all the time my children were growing up; he resurfaced after he began to collect retirement benefits. I will not get help from him willingly.

Also, how is the amount to be deducted determined - is there a maximum that can be deducted from a pension benefit for child support arrears?

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Likely, you will need an attorney. Make sure he/she is well-acquainted with QDROs. If you need some background, this is a good beginning: http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/publications/qdros.html

I'm a retirement actuary. Nothing about my comments is intended or should be construed as investment, tax, legal or accounting advice. Occasionally, but not all the time, it might be reasonable to interpret my comments as actuarial or consulting advice.

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Although the Department of Labor is incorrect, the Department believes that a plan should divulge otherwise confidential information that is sought for purposes of obtaining a QDRO. Perhaps the Department could be prevailed upon to informally unloose the information. Otherwise it will take take legal process.

Another approach would simply be to get an order that required payment of all or some percentage of payment amounts (whatever they are) until a certain target is reached. The process of getting that sort of order is likely to bring the information out before the order is actually entered.

If your CSE agency will not proceed, you will need a lawyer, both for the QDRO issues and the state law issues. A right has to be established under state domestic relations law before it can be satified through a QDRO. State law will determine limits. I can't say if you CSE agency is just wimpy or ignorant or if there is some other issue involved.

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Guest ERISA Litigator

If you won't get help from your ex, you are going to have to go to court anyway. You can do that yourself or get an attorney. Once you do go to court you can subpoena the plan under Rule 45 (or state equivalent) to get the information. In other words, your attorney should be able to get this information; whether he/she does in fact get the information will depend on hard the plan pushes back and how hard the attorney pushes back at the plan. Also, if push does come to shove, it will depend on what kind of backbone the court has.

I don't know why plans won't give out this information to former spouses. QDROphile says the information is "otherwise confidential." I disagree with QDROphile and agree with the DOL. Nobody has ever pointed me to any law that says the information is confidential vis-a-vis the spouse/ex-spouse. Such confidentiality is certainly not in ERISA.

The maximum that can be deducted without violating federal law is the maximum benefit allowable to the spouse/participant, i.e., 100% of the participant's benefits.

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