Here’s the early word on the Supreme Court’s ruling in Kennedy v. Plan Administrator for DuPont Savings and Investment Plan, which revolved around the issue of divorce decrees, the QDRO requirements of ERISA, and whether – in the absence of a valid QDRO – a plan administrator can rightly just pay proceeds to an ex-spouse of a plan participant if the participant never removed the ex as a beneficiary. I have only read this analysis of the case from SCOTUS blog (I will read the opinion itself tonight), but the answer appears to be the same as what most of us have always assumed to be the case: that in the absence of a probate court order that satisfies the statutory requirements in a particular circuit for constituting a QDRO, the money gets paid as per the express terms of the plan itself and any existing beneficiary designation, without regard to any extrinsic divorce agreement that might have mandated otherwise.

Simple enough, although in at least some circuits there is some ambiguity as to exactly what constitutes a QDRO, for instance in how closely the statutory requirements must be complied with. Perhaps the opinion, once I look at it, will shed some light on this question as well.