For IPF:
dstupar@ipfweb.org
Phone: 1-888-880-8222
Fax: 202-347-7339

For IHF:
rdonovick@bacweb.org
Phone: 1-888-880-8222
Fax: 202-383-3905

620 F Street, NW
Washington, DC 20004
202.783.3788

About Us

 

Summer 2004

Divorce and Pension Benefits

The issues surrounding divorce and the allocation of pension benefits are complex. IPF pension benefits, as well as pension and annuity benefits under Local pension plans, vested and non-vested, which belong to a participant, may be considered marital property subject to divisions in a divorce regardless of whether the participant has retired or not. A property settlement agreement or a divorce decree may allow the participant to retain all of his accrued pension benefits. Alternatively, a property settlement agreement or a divorce decree may require that the ex-spouse of a participant be assigned all or a share of the participant’s pension benefits. If this is the case, then a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (“QDRO”) is required in order for the ex-spouse of the participant to receive any pension benefits from the participant’s pension plan.

Qualified Domestic Relations Orders

A QDRO is a domestic relations order, which creates or recognizes the existence of an ex-spouse’s (alternate payee) right to receive, or assigns to an alternate payee the right to receive, all or a portion of the benefits payable with respect to a participant under a pension plan. The parties to the divorce action and their respective counsel need to prepare a draft domestic relations order assigning all or a portion of the participant’s pension benefits to an ex-spouse. This draft order is then submitted to the Plan Administrator for a determination of its “qualified status.” The Plan Administrator is the party who makes the determination of whether a domestic relations order is a Qualified Domestic Relations Order. Once the Plan Administrator makes a determination that the draft order is “qualified” the parties can then have the order filed with the court which has jurisdiction of the parties’ divorce and property settlement issues.

There are several requirements under Federal law that a domestic relations order must meet in order for it to be considered “Qualified.” The order must, at a minimum, include the following information:

The name and last known mailing address of the participant and alternate payee;
The name of each plan to which the order applies;
The dollar amount or percentage (or the method of determining the amount or percentage) of the benefit paid to the alternate payee;
The number of payments or time period to which the order applies;
The order must not require a plan to provide an alternate payee or participant with any type or form of benefit, or any option, not otherwise provided under the plan;
The order must not require a plan to provide for increased benefits (determined on the basis of actuarial value);
The order must not require a plan to pay benefits to an alternate payee that are required to be paid to another alternate payee under another order previously determined to be a QDRO; and
The order must not require a plan to pay benefits to an alternate payee in the form of a qualified joint and survivor annuity for the lives of the alternate payee and his or her subsequent spouse.

The IPF has model QDRO’s available, which can be provided to participants and/or their respective counsel to assist them in the drafting of a QDRO relating to the division, in a divorce action, of a participant’s IPF pension benefits for the benefit of an ex-spouse.

Also, a change in a participant’s marital status does not automatically revoke any beneficiary designation that the participant has made in favor of his spouse. Accordingly, a participant should contact the Fund office when a legal change in marital status is made and request a change of beneficiary card if he or she wishes to change his or her beneficiary. In addition, a participant should also contact his or her Local Union and Local benefit plans.

Should you have any questions regarding divorce and/or QDRO’s, or to obtain an IPF Model QDRO, contact the Membership Services Department at the Fund office at 1-888-880-8222.