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How do I protect myself from Qdro's


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I'm the new wife,  I guess my husband thought he would not remarry,  however I have 2years in the marriage and plan to stay till death do us part.  However the ex-wife has a qdro approved back in 2013, we were married late 2015.  They have been divorced since 2006. Is the amount of the benefits she will be  awarded valued at the  amount of what his retirement was worth up to the date of the divorce in 2006,  and is that the same for survivors benefits.   At this time the qdro  says that she will get 50%.  He plans to work another 5-10 years but his currently at the age of 59 1/2 so I think she can start collecting benefits.  What can do to protect myself from losing out on the Benefit plans, 401k, survivors benefits and social security benefits.  Things like this really he does not like to talk about but does he need to make any changes to these benefit plans or to the qdro.  I'm no dummy I refuse to let the ex get everything.

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Lot's more information needed, but the most important information is:  "what does the QDRO say?"  Note (1) survivor benefits might have its own set of provisions; (2) a QDRO might award more than (or less than) X% of the benefit earned (i.e. at 2006 in your example) because the QDRO award can be part of the "horse-trading" in any divorce/property settlement.

Can she (first wife) collect benefits at 59-1/2? Maybe, depends on the terms of the plan document and the QDRO.

BTW, your Q implies this is a defined benefit plan rather than a defined contribution plan; the distinction is important, but just my assumption, so far. 

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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I am not a lawyer, but the starting point would probably be finding out what the QDRO provides to the ex and what remains for your husband.  To the extent that some of your husband's benefits are given to the ex by the QDRO, there is probably nothing you can do about it.  The ex has rights that are spelled out in the QDRO.  If your husband is still earning benefits, the newly-earned benefits are probably not assigned to the ex along with any previously earned benefits not belonging to the ex.

Always check with your actuary first!

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A#1:   There is nothing you can do about it except to understand what the QDRO provides and make sure it is administered correctly so you receive the correct benefits for a subsequent spouse of a participant subject to the QDRO.

A#2:  You can can talk your spouse into having the QDRO modified, which is unlikely to be entertained by the court.  See A#1. 

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What I can't understand is why, if this is a 401(k) Plan, the QDRO hasn't been processed yet? The ex-spouse is usually on the phone right after the QDRO is signed by the judge wondering how soon they can get the money. Nevertheless, the Order should state as of what date the split is to occur, how much the ex-spouse should receive and whether or not they are entitled to investment gains/losses, dividends and fees.

On the other hand, if the Plan is a defined benefit pension plan, then the ex-spouse may not have access to the funds until the Participant is entitled to a distribution - typically age 65.

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