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Monday, August 17, 2009

Dividing Non-Qualified Retirment Benefits in Washington Divorce

Pension and other retirement benefits are generally considered property subject to distribution by the Court in a dissolution action. A qualified pension plan (under the ERISA tax code) can be divided in two primary methods. The first is to determine it's value and awarding it to one spouse. The second is to divide the benefit between the spouses, typically using a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). Today, we will look at dividing non-qualified plans.

Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA's) are not qualified so a QDRO is not necessary. They can be awarded or divided in the Divorce Decree with simple language specifying who gets it.

Washington State pensions, including Public Employees' Retirement System (PERS), Teachers' Retirement System (TRS), School Employees' Retirement System (SERS), Law Enforcement Officers' and Fire Fighters' Retirement System (LEOFF), Washington State Patrol Retirement System (WSPRS), Judicial Retirement System (JRS), and Judges' Retirement Fund (JRF), all require special statutory treatment for division, rather than a QDRO. Specific information on these pensions can be found at the following web page

A family law attorney can advise you on how retirement benefits can fit into a fair division of assets, and help in getting them valued. QDRO's need to be approved by both the court and the pension administrator. Be sure to have your QDRO reviewed by an attorney.

The Renton law firm of Mogren, Glessner & Roti, represents clients in a variety of family law cases, including the division of assets (like a pension) in a divorce. We have 4 attorneys for you to chose from. Please visit our web page at for more information.

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