Protecting Survivors’ Economic Security in Later Life: Divorce, QDROs, and Coercive Control

February 8, 2019

Hon. Karen Howze, National Council of Juvenile & Family Court Judges
Emily Spreiser, Pension Rights Center/National Pension Assistance Resource Center 
Cailin Crockett, Administration for Community Living, U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services 
Juanita Davis, National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life
Concerns about long-term economic security can make it difficult for survivors of domestic violence to leave abusive relationships, and abusers often exhibit economic control and coercion over victims. We’ll explore how survivors can obtain part of a former spouse’s retirement benefit at divorce through a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO), and how abusers exercise coercive control by hindering QDRO access. This session will help advocates working with an increasingly aging population to better understand the role that retirement benefits play in promoting survivors’ long-term economic security, to identify legal resources specific to retirement, and to support survivors seeking to obtain a portion of an abuser’s earned retirement benefit at divorce. Judges will also benefit from an increased understanding of how access to retirement benefits promotes survivors’ long-term economic stability, and greater awareness of how the QDRO process operates once parties have left the courtroom.