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Spouse’s Right to Pensions in Iowa Divorces

Updated on
February 4, 2021
Article written by
Eugene Nassif

In this article, we discuss a spouse’s right to pensions in an Iowa divorce. We cover the following questions:

  • What Happens in a Divorce Proceeding?
  • What happens with my Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QRDO) in a Pension Plan?

In Iowa, a pension or retirement plan earned during a marriage is considered a joint marital asset of the couple. This means that it can be divided during a divorce. Often, these accounts are among the most valuable assets in the marriage. Certain steps must be taken in order to have a pension divided in a divorce. If these steps aren’t followed, you might lose your right to a share of the pension. 

What Happens in a Divorce Proceeding?

As soon as divorce proceedings begin, a written request will need to be submitted requesting information about your spouse's pension plan. The letter will tell the plan administrator that there is a divorce and the spouse may be entitled to a portion of the pension.  

 

Once you have the information, it will be important to review the documents and determine what you might be entitled to. If your spouse has multiple pensions or a prior divorce settlement, additional considerations will need to be made to divide the pension. You will need a court order for each plan. This order is called a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO).  

What happens with my Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QRDO) in a Pension Plan?

Your attorney will get the information from the pension administrator of the pension’s QDRO procedures. This is important because the administrator of the pension plan must approve the QDRO before a court can approve it. Any issues with the pension must be resolved prior to the divorce decree. If the divorce decree gives you a share of your ex-spouse's pension but you don’t have a QDRO, you will be forced to go back to court and may lose part or all of your share of the pension. 

 

Once the settlement and QDRO terms are worked out, the court will issue a divorce decree and QDRO. Copies will then be sent to the pension plan administrator who will then handle the transfer and disbursement.


Spouse’s Right to Pensions in Iowa Divorces
Author

Eugene Nassif

Eugene Nassif is an associate attorney in Des Moines, Iowa. His primary focus is in business and civil litigation matters.

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