Lawyers know all too well that clients who sit on their rights risk losing them. If you are familiar with the saying “you snooze you lose,” it is especially true when it comes to your right to receive retirement benefits from your spouse after a divorce. To avoid this, never let a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) linger.
What is a Qualified Domestic Relations Order?
A QDRO is issued in regard to retirement accounts covered by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) as a method of disbursing the appropriate marital portion of one spouse’s retirement account to the other spouse. The marital portion that must be shared is the amount contributed between the date of the marriage to the date of the divorce.
Most divorcing spouses with this type of financial interest act quickly to protect it, but occasionally there are those who wait, sometimes months or years before seeking to enforce the QDRO. This is when problems arise. Michigan law does not allow anyone to sleep on his or her rights for an extended period of time. According to MCL 600.5809(3), the statute of limitations is 10 years for any actions brought on a judgment or decree by a Michigan court. A QDRO is a decree (an order) by a Michigan court and is therefore subject to the 10-year limitation period.
Why is there a Statute of Limitations?
While it may seem unfair to put a time limit on your legal rights, if someone has a legal claim, he or she needs to act on it quickly. The public policy behind all statutes of limitation is to encourage and require the prompt resolution of claims so there is not legal uncertainty hanging over people’s heads for the rest of their lives. Life is uncertain enough and statutes of limitations allow people to have some measure of security in life, knowing something that happened when they were 30 years old will not come back to haunt them when they are 70 years old.
Were You Awarded Retirement Benefits in Your Divorce?
If you have been awarded pension or other retirement benefits in your divorce, you should consult a skilled Michigan divorce attorney as quickly as possible about enforcing your rights. You want to act on a QDRO immediately. Sometimes, a QDRO can take a year or longer to be approved by a plan administrator. Even when it does not, time can often move much faster than we anticipate; 10 weeks becomes 10 months, then becomes 10 years in the blink of an eye.
Work with an Experienced Michigan Divorce Attorney
If you are getting divorced or are already divorced and would like to enforce a QDRO, please contact Michael Robbins to schedule an initial consultation to discuss the details of your property division issue. Call 248-646-7980 or contact him online to schedule your appointment. Mr. Robbins is a skilled family attorney located in Bloomfield Hills. If you are in the Tri-County area of Oakland, Wayne and Macomb counties or in greater Michigan, do not delay; call Michael Robbins today.