Using a QDRO to collect back alimony in California
Divorce really does not end once the court terminates a marriage. Financial legal responsibilities, which stem from dissolution of a marriage, continue after the divorce decree. Disregarding those responsibilities can constitute contempt of court. Nevertheless, Orange County, California, divorced spouses sometimes continue to fight because of ongoing or unresolved family law concerns, such as collecting the spousal support or child support they need and rightfully deserve.
According to U.S. Census data, the majority of ex-husbands fail to fulfill their financial obligations after divorce, particularly with respect to alimony. Because of the negative impact that not receiving support can have on a former spouse or a child, attorneys now can use a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) as a mechanism to compel a former spouse to pay.
A QDRO is a judgment, decree or order that allows an ex-spouse to collect a financial divorce settlement from his or her spouse’s retirement plan, including an ERISA plan, pension plan or 401(k), but not an IRA. Although the QDRO is beneficial for other reasons, it can also be used to enforce or collateralize spousal support.
In California, QDROs are now becoming a popular method to collect past due child support and alimony. If an ex-spouse fails to pay his or her financial duties stipulated by the divorce agreement, the court can take payment from a retirement account.
Another important tool to ensure the receipt of spousal support is an Alimony and Maintenance Trust. The paying spouse transfers the assets to the trust, and the income generated by those assets will be used to pay alimony, all according to stipulations in the divorce agreement.
Alimony is awarded to help ex-spouses who have limited sources of income or who have neglected their careers because of marriage and are now having difficulty finding employment. If spousal support is not being paid or an ex-spouse believes that the amount is not sufficient or too high, a family law attorney can help.
Source: Forbes, “How to get your ex-husband to honor the financial terms of your divorce settlement,” Jeff Landers, Feb. 19, 2014