Wallace v. WildenseeAnnotate this Case
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court denying a request for a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO), holding that without a divorce or separate maintenance proceeding under Iowa Code chapter 598 Iowa district courts cannot enter QDROs for the sole purpose of transferring a plan covered by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA).
Plaintiff sought to have her late husband's 401(k) profit-sharing plan, which was governed by ERISA, transferred into her name. To complete such a transfer, ERISA requires the parties to obtain a QDRO pursuant to Iowa domestic relations law, but at the time the petition was filed the parties were married and opposed to seeking a domestic relations order through divorce or separate maintenance proceedings. The district court refused to grant the order on the grounds that it lacked the authority to do so. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, in the absence of a domestic relations matter such as a divorce, married couples cannot obtain a QDRO for the sole purpose of moving funds in an ERISA plan to the non-participating spouse.