Noble v. Noble, 9th Dist. Lorain No. 19CA011472, 2019-Ohio-5372 (December 30, 2019)

Issue:  Can the court require one spouse to divide his social security benefit by using a Qualified Domestic Relations Order?

Decision:  Gr the trial court ordered Husband to prepare a Qualified Domestic Relations (QDRO) that provided a portion of his social security benefits to Wife.  Husband filed an appeal arguing that 42 USC 407(a) explicitly prevents the levy, attachment, garnishment, or other taking of a social security benefit.  Husband further argued the Ohio Supreme Court determined in Neville v. Neville, 99 Ohio St.3d 275, 2003-Ohio-3624, that social security benefits cannot be divided in a divorce proceeding; instead, they may only be considered as a factor in equitable distribution.

The Ninth District Court of Appeals agreed with Husband and overturned the trial court’s order that the Husband must divide his social security benefit.

Discussion:  Social security is just one of the many retirement benefits that cannot be divided through a court order.  In addition to social security benefits, there are certain executive compensation plans, certain state plans, and some Individual Retirement Accounts.  It is always important to realize what can be divided and what cannot be divided before trial.  Otherwise, you may agree/advocate for a division that cannot be accomplished.

How we can help: If you talk with us early in the case and we can let you know if there are any unique provisions or limitations for the retirement plans involved.  Speak to one of experts today.  (844) 721-6500