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The Virginia Retirement System (VRS) is a 1) defined benefit plan, which is qualified as a government plan under § 401(a) of the Internal Revenue Code and 2) several defined contribution plans, also qualified under the I.R.S. Code. The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) does not control VRS.
VRS cannot divide a defined benefit plan or a defined contribution account balance before a court of “competent jurisdiction” issues an Approved Domestic Relations Order (ADRO). Because VRS is not an ERISA plan, it must use an ADRO rather than an ERISA QDRO.
The ADRO permits VRS, which administers retirement funds, to make direct payment to the former spouse when retirement benefits are divided as part of a marital property settlement. Unless the court enters a VBRS-approved ADRO, direct payment to a spouse may not be possible, "even if the court awards an interest in the benefits or account balances." Learn more by reading our FAQs below.
A. Depending on the divorce decree, a spouse may be awarded a portion of the pension benefits.
A. No, VRS does not offer advice, nor does it mediate marital property disputes.
A. No. VRS payments are made only when the member spouse ends his or her employment, or applies for a benefit or refund, and his or her benefits become payable. The former spouse cannot receive his or her share until the member spouse retires.
A. If the member decides on monthly payments, the former spouse must accept the same payment regime.
A. The Code of Virginia requires that VCRS has to have a copy of an ADRO before it can pay a former spouse any court-awarded retirement benefits.
A. No. A pension benefit cannot be revoked or changed. For example, if a former spouse is named survivor, payments continue to him or her after the member’s death.
A. Yes. The only way the former spouse receives a monthly benefit after the member dies is for the member to select a survivor option when filing for retirement that names the former spouse as a continent annuitant.
A. Yes, but the decree must be filed in Virginia before VRS can administer it.
A. No. Under Virginia law, the marriage dissolution decree revokes the designation of the spouse as beneficiary.
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