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socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 37830
Experience:  Retired (mostly)
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I have a stipulation that was part of my divorce decree. I

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I have a stipulation that was part of my divorce decree. I am the alternate payee on my ex's QDRO. Am I limited to those rights that are only set forth in the Stipulation? There was no future cost of living increase in the Stiplulation, does that me I am not entitled to that in the QDRO?
All ERISA-qualified retirement plans are controlled by federal law. Neither the court, nor the parties themselves, can interfere with the retirement plan provisions as described in the Summary Plan Description or other retirement plan documents.

You can stipulate to whatever you want, but the QDRO itself, cannot demand from the Plan administrator, anything other than what the Plan allows. Thus, in order for you to be entitled to a cost of living increase, the plan would have to permit it -- otherwise, you cannot enforce your stipulation against the plan -- and neither can the NY Family or Supreme Court.

Your right to benefits is simply a share of what your ex-spouse is entitled to, according to whatever plan provisions apply you your ex-spouse's rights to the retirement benefits.

Thus, the answer is that you are only entitled to a cost of living increase, to the extent that your ex's plan provides cost of living increases to plan participants -- because what you receive is derived from your ex's rights in the plan.

You may want to review the Summary Plan Description for the retirement plan to see exactly what you're entitled to -- because that's the definitive document concerning the issue.

Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

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