Protect your rights to retirement benefits after your divorce


In a divorce, the court can award or the parties can agree that one spouse will receive a share of the other spouse’s retirement benefits, such as:

  • a 401(k)
  • 403(b)
  • IRA
  • TSP
  • pension
  • FERS
  • Maryland State Retirement System Pension

Additionally, the court can order the garnishment of a retirement account to pay child support or alimony.


Federal and state law allow for a variety of retirement orders that can be used to divide these assets without early withdraw penalties, tax implications or other consequences.

However, to accomplish these transfers, a specific order is required depending on the type of retirement account to be divided.

For example:

  • a 401(k) will require a Qualified Domestic Relations Order
  • a federal thrift savings plan will require a Retirement Benefits Order
  • the federal FERS pension requires a Court Order Acceptable for Processing

Additionally, other financial benefits from employment may require a court order to effectuate the terms of the parties’ final settlement agreement or the court’s final order.


Retirement Orders have specific requirements and the plan administrator may have extensive paperwork that must be reviewed to prepare an order that complies with both the plan’s requirements and applicable federal and state law.

Sarah Novak Nesbitt, Managing Attorney of FLAG’s Family Law Division, has extensive experience preparing these orders both for FLAG’s family law clients and for clients referred to her by other family law attorneys who do not offer this service.

Unlike the other services offered by FLAG, these orders are prepared for a flat fee, which includes:

  • necessary communication with Sarah
  • the drafting of the order
  • any revisions agreed to by the divorce attorneys or required by the plan
  • the service of the order on the plan

Once you have spent the time and energy to obtain a final court order or agreement governing the terms of your divorce, you want to effectuate those terms as quickly and cost-effectively as possible.

With FLAG’s experience in preparing orders and flat fee service, we will ensure that this final detail is resolved quickly and accurately without compromising the client service that is our founding principle.