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FREE QDROs thanks to the California Access to Justice Commission!

Press Release: 2023 | News, Press & Media

FREE QDROs thanks to the California Access to Justice Commission!

Last year, nonprofit legal aid organizations and court-based self-help centers from across the state were provided free training and free access to software to enable them to help litigants in financial distress with retirement division through a grant from the California Access to Justice Commission. The grant monies enabled the creation of the Dividing Pensions in Divorce Project, which provided FREE training, software, and mentoring to nonprofit legal aid organizations and court-based self-help centers providing family law assistance to low and moderate income persons. The Project is continuing for a second year.

Almost all nonprofit legal aid organizations and court-based self-help centers do not offer QDRO support. This paradigm is changing with this grant! All too often, one of the parties in a divorce is employed having some sort of retirement account (e.g. 401k), but the other party is either not aware of their rights or cannot afford a QDRO to access their marital share. Access to funds through a QDRO can make a significant economic impact on low to moderate income individuals.

The Center has expanded the Project and will be providing QDRO services directly to income-eligible individuals. With a QR code, organizations will be able to refer litigants to the Center for free QDROs.

In partnership with the Center for Access to QDROs, nonprofit legal aid organizations and court-based self-help centers can now offer the following QDRO services:

Free QDROs: the Center has expanded the Project by providing QDRO services directly to eligible individuals. With a QR code, organizations will be able to refer litigants to the Center for free QDROs. After verifying income eligibility as established by the federal poverty standard, the Center will provide those individuals direct QDRO support. The Center will draft QDROs, joinders, notice of adverse interest, and judgment language.

Free QDRO Information Sessions: The Center will hold “QDRO Days” at participating nonprofit legal aid organizations and court-based, self-help centers. QDRO Days will be comprised of Center staff member(s) being available for a 2 – 4 hour block of time which will be dedicated to assisting staff of the participating entity work through their cases and/or by providing direct services to the individual litigants for their QDRO needs.

QDROCounsel Platform: All participants will have unlimited access to the QDROCounsel platform as well as help-desk assistance with any questions surrounding their use of the platform.

Education and Training: Bi-monthly 2-3 hours live Zoom training sessions on the following topics: (i) understand the types of retirement benefits; (ii) understand key QDRO issues including death, separate property interests, support, government plans and how to issue spot based on plan type; (iii) help create a system to identify litigants that need QDROs; (iv) how to integrate retirement benefits division into workflow; (v) what to do if a family law case involves retirement benefits, including joinders and discovery; (vi) draft judgment language that protects litigants and provides for the division of retirement benefits; and (vii) draft QDROs. Participants will also have access to the Learning Management System which includes the previously recorded training videos and materials from Year One, as well as over 14 hours of MCLE content.

Additional Support: Participants can request additional support in the form of one-on-one mentorship to assist them as they implement pension division into their workflow.

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Center for Access to QDROs is making dividing retirement benefits in divorce accessible for all!

Press Release: 2022 | News, Press & Media

Making Dividing Retirement Benefits in Divorce Accessible

With training and mentoring for nonprofit legal service providers and court-based self-help centers, along with an exclusive license to drafting software, the Center for Access to QDROs is closing the justice gap to ensure that low and moderate income persons receive their entitlement to retirement assets in a divorce.

Divorce impacts individuals of all income levels. But for low to moderate-income individuals, the largest marital assets are usually a home and the pension. During a divorce, often the division of the pension is postponed or forgotten. This often leads to the loss of a financial asset for the most financially vulnerable individuals. Lack of information and access to assistance is the main obstacle in obtaining this asset. The Center for Access to QDROs was founded to close the justice gap when it comes to the division of retirement assets in a divorce.

The Center for Access to QDROs was established by the founders of QDROCounsel, a legal technology company for pension division. QDROCounsel, through its founders, have a long standing commitment to pro bono services. QDROCounsel has provided their revolutionary software and help desk assistance to nonprofits for free and also assists low to moderate income family law litigants on a pro bono basis.

In 2022, QDROCounsel, partnered with the nonprofit legal service provider, Harriett Buhai Center for Family Law for the Dividing Pensions in Divorce Project. Due to the Harriett Buhai Center’s trailblazing efforts assisting their clients with pension division, they were awarded a grant by the California State Bar’s California Access to Justice Commission. The grant monies enabled the creation of the Dividing Pensions in Divorce Project, which provided FREE training, software, and mentoring to nonprofit legal aid programs and court-based self-help centers providing family law assistance to low and moderate income persons. The Project created and increased capacity among nonprofit legal service providers and court-based self-help centers to assist family law litigants divide retirement benefits.

The Center for Access to QDROs was created due to the success of this 2022 Project, coupled with the founders of QDROCounsel’s commitment to ensure retirement benefits division is accessible to all and a desire to continue assisting low to moderate income family law litigants on a wider scale.