Seattle, WA asked in Divorce for Washington

Q: How long after divorce does my ex have to initiate paperwork to transfer retirement funds from my name to hers?

Divorce was final several years ago and property settlement awards this account to her. I have reminded her via email several times that she needs to schedule appointment at bank for us to sign papers for this. Do funds eventually become mine if she takes no action?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Marjorie Simmons
Marjorie Simmons
  • Burlington, WA
  • Licensed in Washington

A: Retirement funds are divided by Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDROs). QDROs can be done at any time as long as the retirement plan rules allow for dividing the account(s) at any time. Most plans have strict rules about the timing of account division, and most will severely limit or even prohibit division after retirement, so the sooner a QDRO is done, the better. Ideally, QDROs should be done at the same time as the divorce. There are many different kinds of plans, each have their own rules, and all are governed by specific laws. If you retire before she pursues a QDRO, her options, and possibly her entire interest in your account(s) may expire. It is the responsibility of the one who is assigned an interest in someone else's retirement account(s) to pursue the QDRO, unless the decree states otherwise. In this instance, it would appear from your question that it is her responsibility rather than yours, but you will want to refer to the court order(s) governing your divorce to see if the responsibility was assigned to you instead.

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