QDROs Down the Drainville?
I don’t think anyone has made as sustained a study of the law of QDROs as Albert Feuer. Albert has a new piece he has authored on the Drainville decision, which I discussed here, in which Albert concurs that it is both well reasoned and accurate in treating substantial compliance with the statutory QDRO requirements as sufficient. Albert, however, has long maintained a particular scholarly view on the QDRO requirements, which is that they only apply to pensions under the statutory language, and don’t reach other ERISA governed plans or benefits. Albert points out that the Drainville court erred in its analysis for this reason.
Being a practical, courtroom oriented kind of guy, I have never done my own independent analysis of Albert’s thesis, since in practice QDROs are treated as applicable across the board and thus my litigation over the issue has always focused on the application of the statutory requirements, and not on whether they reach all covered benefits or only pension benefits. I have to say, though, that his argument on the point and the manner in which he presents it has always been pretty persuasive; it would certainly be interesting to see a lawyer challenge a purported QDRO on this basis and to see what a court would do with that issue.