Can my former employer hold my pension if my divorce states 401k?

In my divorce, my decree stated that my ex-husband was entitled to $4000 of my 401k. When I signed my final papers, I asked which papers needed to go to my employer to pay my ex the $4000 and the paralegal stated nothing, it all gets done through the court. I have since left that job and because I thought my ex was paid, I cashed out my 401k. I still have a cash account pension owed to me by this employer, however they will not release it to me because I told them I was getting a divorce. Now, they are holding my pension until I change my QDRO to state my ex is entitled to $4000 of my cash account pension instead of 401k. These are 2 separate accounts and programs through this employer.

Asked on June 25, 2012 under Family Law, Washington


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Even though your dissolution decree with your former spouse states that he was to receive $4,000 from your 401 k plan through work, unless the decree specifically orders your employer to pay such amount the decree as you have written does not authorize the employer to issue payment to your former spouse from your 401 k pool.

Ordinarily, when there is a decree like you have written about, you would request the finds from your employer to be paid directly to you and then you pay your former husband the $4,000. Custom and practice in the business environment is that the employer wants to have as little as possible with an employee's domestic issues.

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