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Employee Benefits Security Administration

Fact Sheet

Time and Order of Issuance of Domestic Relations Orders

EBSA plans to enhance retirement security by clarifying the rights and obligations of parties seeking to obtain benefits under a qualified domestic relations order, thereby supporting the Secretary's good jobs for everyone policy.

Key Action: Final Regulation

The Department's EBSA plans to publish a final regulation in April 2010 clarifying that a domestic relations order otherwise meeting the requirements to be a qualified domestic relations order ("QDRO") shall not fail to be treated as a QDRO solely because the order is issued after, or revises, another domestic relations order or QDRO, or because of the time at which it is issued.

Key Concern and Issues to be Addressed

Participants and prospective alternate payees are entitled to have the administrator of their pension plan determine whether their domestic relations order is a QDRO within a reasonable period of time after receipt of the order and to a prompt notification of such determination. This regulation is intended to facilitate this determination process in certain cases by clarifying that orders shall not fail solely because the order is issued after, or revises, another domestic relations order or QDRO, or because of the time at which it is issued.

Background

  • A domestic relations order may assign some or all of a participant's pension benefits to a spouse, former spouse, child, or other dependent to satisfy family support or marital property obligations if and only if the order is a "qualified domestic relations order."
  • The law requires that each pension plan pay benefits in accordance with the applicable requirements of any domestic relations order that has been determined to be a QDRO.
  • Plan administrators have specific responsibilities and duties with respect to determining whether a domestic relations order is a QDRO.
  • The Pension Protection Act of 2006 directed the Secretary of Labor to issue regulations clarifying that a domestic relations order otherwise meeting the requirements to be a QDRO shall not fail to be treated as a QDRO solely because the order is issued after, or revises, another domestic relations order or QDRO, or because of the time at which it is issued.
  • The Department published an interim final regulation on March 7, 2007. The Department received approximately 25 comment letters on the interim final regulation. Comments on the proposal are available at www.dol.gov/ebsa/regs/commentsmain.html.