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A lien on retirement could help you get spousal support

You might be incredibly frustrated right now because your divorce settlement isn't being upheld. Or, maybe you're mad because your to-be-ex-husband won't agree to fair financial terms for your settlement. A divorce does have the potential to cause serious stress in your life during the divorce and in the future if your ex isn't willing to honor the negotiations.

What can you do if you find your ex-spouse isn't keeping up with the terms of your divorce? Fortunately, you do have a few options. For example, if you never receive your court-ordered spousal support, you can seek a Qualified Domestic Relations Order.

What is a Qualified Domestic Relations Order?

The QDRO is a decree made by the court that orders that you have a right to receive a portion of a retirement plan, in most cases. However, today, a QDRO has the potential to work as an enforcement article to collect past-due spousal support and to secure future payments.

How does that work? It's easy. If your ex won't give you the required spousal support or pay you for other financial obligations, then the QDRO put in place takes the funds from his retirement fund. Essentially, the QDRO places a lien on the retirement account so long as it is an Employee Retirement Income Security Act-governed account. It will not work on IRAs.

Here's an example of how the QDRO might work. If your ex-husband owes you $50,000 in spousal support but refuses to pay, then the court may order the QDRO to place a lien on $50,000 of your ex-husband's share of retirement benefits on top of any retirement benefits already owed to you. This guarantees that all payments owed are paid to you eventually, even if you have to wait until the retirement account matures.

It's hard to deal with someone who won't pay in accordance with a divorce settlement, but this and other options can help you guarantee that you'll get the money eventually.

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James H. Snyder Attorney at Law
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