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Colorado Endorses Collecting Overdue Maintenance (Alimony) from Retirement Accounts

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So, you have a Child Support Order and/or Maintenance Order in place.

One problem; you cannot collect the past due amount. While there are many ways to collect support in Colorado, all too often, the person obligated to pay support does everything in their ability to avoid paying the obligation. The Colorado Court of Appeals has recently upheld a process to allow past due child support and maintenance collection from the obligated party’s employer-held retirement account. See IRM of Drexler and Bruce, Jr., 2013 COA 43 (Colo.App.2013).

What type of Retirement Accounts Can I Pursue?

There are many types of financial accounts. This post deals only with employer-held retirement accounts.

The recent Colorado Court of Appeals decision affirms collection from employer-held retirement accounts. These are commonly 401(k) or pension accounts. Please note that the law surrounding retirement accounts is fairly complex. Further, some retirement plans, such as PERA, present special challenges.

How can I Collect?

If a party is behind on support payments, the first question is whether you have a valid, enforceable support order (hopefully, the answer to this question is “yes”).  Next, you must determine whether or not the obligated party has retirement accounts to pursue. If the obligated party has employer-held retirement accounts, you must request that the Court enter a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) to collect the arrearages from the retirement plan.

Your request to the Court must comply with the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure.

A QDRO is a domestic relations order that creates or recognizes a person’s right to receive all or a portion of the benefits payable to the plan participant (here the obligated party) under a retirement plan. A proposed QDRO must be drafted in a way that meets the particular retirement plan’s requirements and specifications.

A QDRO may be used to enforce maintenance and child support obligations for which you have a valid and enforceable Court order.   If the Court grants your request for a QDRO, you must submit exactly what the retirement plan requires directly to the retirement plan for collection.

Conclusion

In an ideal world, you can expect to receive child support and maintenance payments as the Court ordered. However, some people will do anything to avoid their obligations. There are many options to collect past due support, depending on the circumstances. Which option makes the most sense in your particular case requires an analysis of all possible options. The above information gives a very basic outline of one such option to collect past due support.

For more information contact Divorce Matters.

720.542.6142.

www.divorce-matters.com