When you and your ex got divorced, they got a portion of your pension. This happened through a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). Since you were married during the course of your employment, part of that pension counts as a marital asset, and your ex gets half of that money.
Now, though, you heard through the grapevine that your ex is going to get married again. It has been five years since your own divorce and you feel happy that you both have moved on, but you want to know what this means for you. Do you start getting your full pension after your ex remarries, or do you still have to keep splitting it up?
Is it alimony?
The biggest question to ask here is whether the QDRO relates in any way to your alimony payments. Did the court order you to pay alimony to your ex? Is the QDRO part of how you’re doing that? Is the alimony order still in effect, meaning it has not run its course and terminated on its own?
If so, you may get your full pension back again. It depends on how the order got drafted, but many alimony plans end when the receiving spouse gets married again because the court assumes that the new partner can now offer financial support. Alimony is not meant to punish you for the divorce, but to support someone who needs it. If they no longer need it, you no longer have to pay.
However, most of the time, a QDRO that splits up a pension is just used for property division. The portion of the pension you earned during the marriage is an asset. You own it all, even though you don’t have that money at the moment — just the promise of future payments. As such, you cannot split the asset up at the time of divorce. The QDRO does it for you over time.
If this is how your divorce played out, then you still have to keep paying. The court will not care that your ex’s marital status has changed. That asset still belongs to both of you.
One option you have during the divorce is to ask for a division that gives you the pension. For instance, your ex may agree to keep the family home if you can keep 100 percent of the pension. Then you do not need to pay anything at any time.
Understanding your options
Dividing complex assets can get complicated, but it’s also very important. These may be the most valuable assets you own. Make sure you know exactly what legal options you have.