A helpful guide for people awarded retirement benefits at divorce

A helpful guide for people awarded retirement benefits at divorce


By Emily Gilbert

There is now a helpful new guide for individuals who are going through a divorce and have questions about dividing retirement benefits.

The guide – created by the Pension Rights Center, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges’ Resource Center on Domestic Violence: Child Protection and Custody, and the National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life – highlights tips for individuals going through a divorce. Many people do not know that they can ask for a share of a spouse’s retirement benefit at divorce, but retirement benefits are often the largest asset in a marriage. It is important to take the right steps during the divorce proceedings and after, or a divorced person may not receive the benefits he or she is entitled to.

The guide explains different types of retirement benefits, discusses special considerations for individuals in controlling or abusive relationships, and describes how to get a special court order called a QDRO and what to do with it.  Family courts, organizations that assist survivors of domestic violence, and other groups that work with people going through divorce can use this guide to help individuals understand their retirement rights at divorce.

This guide is among PRC’s many activities designed to make the process of dividing retirement benefits at divorce more accessible and easier to understand. We’ve launched an Initiative on Women and Retirement at Divorce to ensure that women and other vulnerable people going through a divorce know that they need a QDRO, and to make the process of getting a QDRO more efficient and less costly. We have brought together stakeholders from all sides – retiree organizations, women’s groups, pension plans, employers, financial institutions, family attorneys and judges – to develop recommendations for making the QDRO process easier for consumers and less burdensome for retirement plans.

Read more:

PRC Fact Sheet: I’m getting divorced: What is a qualified domestic relations order and why should I care? 

PRC Blog Post: Getting a divorce? Skip the roses for Valentine’s Day – and protect your pension

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