06 Aug Can I get back child support from a pension?
Q. I used to receive child support from my daughter’s father while he was employed. Now that he retired and is receiving a pension, all funds stopped. I do receive his tax refunds whenever he files and I just received his stimulus check. Is there a way I can get the pension board to release money to me? As of right now, he owes $75,000 of back child support.
— Needing the money
A. You have several options to pursue the money you’re owed.
In New Jersey, courts are authorized to garnish pensions under circumstances when the paying parent is delinquent in a child support obligation, said Jeralyn Lawrence, a family law attorney with Lawrence Law in Watchung.
“Notably, a court, in its discretion, may allow the enforcement of a child support obligation against a defaulting parent’s pension benefits even under circumstances where the pension documents themselves contain restrictions on garnishment or other involuntary alienations of those benefits,” she said.
To get a garnishment, you would have to request relief from the court and obtain an order authorizing the garnishment, she said. Then, the order would be submitted to the probation department and the pension plan administrator.
“Depending upon the requirements of the pension’s plan administrator, the litigant seeking relief may be required to also obtain and submit a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) authorizing the plan administrator to release funds from the pension directly to the probation department, or alternatively, to the litigant directly,” Lawrence said.
You should work with an attorney who specializes in family law to help with submitting the initial application to the court for relief, filing any requisite QDRO and communicating with the pension’s plan administrator to ensure prompt compliance.
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This story was originally published on Aug. 6, 2020.
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