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QDRO to pay Guardian Ad Litem Fees

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We received a QDRO (just a draft at this point) under which the court is ording the Plan to pay the fees of the Guardian Ad Litem of the Participant's minor child.  I don't see any way this is possible, as QDROs are only supposed to award benefits to an Alternate Payee who is a spouse, former spouse, child, or other dependent.  Has anyone ever seen this before?  Is it legal?

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An order to pay a person other than an alternate payee is not a QDRO.

But a QDRO may direct payment to an alternate payee in an amount that reflects attorneys’ (or a guardian’s) fees within the child support ordered. See Trustees of Directors Guild of Am. Producer Pension Benefits Plans v. Tise, 234 F.3d 415 (9th Cir. 2000), amended by 255 F.3d 661 (9th Cir. 2001); see also Orlowski v. Orlowski, 459 N.J. Super. 95, 208 A.3d 1 (N.J. Super. 2019) (including in an amount awarded to a former spouse alternate payee an amount for the portions of attorneys’ and accountants’ fees allocable to their work in enforcing rights that could themselves be a subject of a QDRO).

The smarter lawyers figure this out before one sends you a draft order. Others learn how to do it after you say an order that calls for a payment to a person other than an alternate payee would not be approved.

Peter Gulia PC

Fiduciary Guidance Counsel

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania



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If the GAL fees are considered to be in the nature of child support, a QDRO can be used to collect them.  See In re: Blaemire, 229 B.R. 665 (1999), - that you can find at https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=7414914616513795651&q=goldberg+v.+miller&hl=en&as_sdt=4,21

holding that attorney fees awarded for representation of children are in the nature of child support and are not dischargeable in Bankruptcy.  It contains a very comprehensive analysis of case law relating to this issue. 

On the other hand, Goldberg* v. Miller, 371 Md. 591, 810 A.2d 947 (2002)

held that Maryland did not consider the fees of a GAL to be in the nature of child support.  

*The "Goldberg" was me, and I never collected a dime.  At the legal judgment rate of interest of 10% he owes me north of $45,000 but made himself judgment proof.  But I keep renewing the judgment every 12 years.  


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