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Many divorces require a retirement plan or plans to be divided between the husband and wife.  Retirement plans generally fall into two categories.  The first category is “Defined Benefit Plans,” which are retirement plans that are fully funded by the employer, and the employee can only receive their benefits after they retire.  The most common type of Defined Benefit Plan is a Pension.  The second category is “Defined Contribution Plans,” where the employee and the employer both contribute to the plan.  The most common type of Defined Contribution Plan is a 401(k) plan or a 403(b) plan (a 403(b) plan is much like a 401(k) plan, except that it is for government employees, like teachers).  Defined Contribution Plans usually go up and down in value based on the stock market.  Employees can usually take out loans against their Defined Contribution Plans.

Both Defined Benefit Plans and Defined Contribution Plans require a separate Order to be divided.  This Order is called a “QDRO,” which stands for: “Qualified Domestic Relations Order.”  Many government-sponsored retirement plans require an “EDRO,” which stands for: “Eligible Domestic Relations Order.”  Federal government employees must use a “COAP,” which stands for: “Court Order Acceptable for Processing.”

Your Judgment of Divorce alone is NOT sufficient to divide your or your spouse’s retirement plan — a QDRO or EDRO or COAP must also be signed by the Judge and approved by the plan administrator before the plan can be divided.

A common mistake among parties, and even their lawyers, is to simply hire an outside company to prepare the QDRO, and then they sign it without even reviewing the terms and provisions.  This can be particularly bad in a case where surviving spouse benefits are at issue.  An improperly-drafted QDRO can result in a party awarding ALL of their surviving spouse benefits to their ex-spouse, even though that ex-spouse was only supposed to receive surviving spouse benefits on the portion of the retirement plan that accumulated during the marriage.

Attorney Matt Catchick has been drafting and reviewing QDROs, EDROs and COAPs for over 17 years.  He is extremely well-versed at identifying the problems and pitfalls in dividing retirement plans.  If you don’t want to give up retirement benefits you worked hard to earn, or if you are an ex-spouse who wants to ensure they get their fair share of benefits, call or e-mail Matt today for a free initial consultation.  Through his experience, knowledge, and attention to detail, Matt will aggressively protect and defend your rights.

Catchick Law, PC. Personal Service. Proven Results.


(248) 606-5522

29829 Greenfield Road, Suite 101
Southfield, MI 48076

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Matt Catchick

Attorney Matt Catchick founded Catchick Law, PC to provide the highest levels of client service and legal representation in the areas of Divorce and Family Law, Criminal Defense, Driver License Restoration, and Traffic Tickets.
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