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Divorce and Distribution of Retirement Assets in Connecticut

Produced on December 19, 2017

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Course Information

Time 1h 35m
Difficulty Intermediate
Topics covered in this course: Family & Matrimonial

Course Description

Retirement assets may be the most valuable assets in a marital estate, yet few attorneys pay them more than passing attention. Competent representation requires that the attorney understand the various types of retirement plans, as well as their limitations.

This course, presented by attorney Elizabeth McMahon, a preeminent attorney specializing in the field of drafting QDROs for more than twenty years, will discuss what information must be addressed in a separation agreement or memorandum of decision to effectively divide retirement assets. The discussion will highlight the differences between 1) a defined benefit (traditional pension and cash balance pension plans) and defined contribution plans (savings plans); 2) a shared interest and a separate interest; and 3) the private employer and state or government plan.

Specifically, in regard to defined contribution plans, she will discuss the Connecticut Appellate Court’s decision in Kremenitzer v. Kremenitzer and the manner in which it pertains to adjustments for gains and losses on a savings plan division. In regard to traditional defined benefit plans, she will cover the need to secure survivor benefits on non-qualified pension plans such as the Federal Employees Retirement System, State (of Connecticut) Employee Retirement System, Connecticut Teachers’ Retirement Board, Railroad Tier II, and the MTA. The course will examine the benefits and pitfalls of aggregating and offsetting different plans, and will cover certain IRAs that should be left alone whenever possible.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Provide an understanding of the differences between the various types of retirement plans
  2. Identify the issues that need to be addressed in the judgment to effectuate the intended order, as it relates to both the division of defined contribution plans and the division of qualified and non-qualified defined benefit plans
  3. Comprehend when and how to use child support QDROs

Credit Information

After completing this course, Lawline will report your attendance information to {{ accredMasterState.state.name }}. Please ensure your license number is filled out in your profile to ensure timely reporting. For more information, see our {{ accredMasterState.state.name }} CLE Requirements page . After completing this course, {{ accredMasterState.state.name }} attorneys self-report their attendance and CLE compliance. For more information on how to report your CLE courses, see our {{ accredMasterState.state.name }} CLE Requirements FAQ .


Elizabeth McMahon


Elizabeth L. McMahon (Betsy) earned both her law and undergraduate degrees from Georgetown University. Before studying law, she was a liaison officer for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Immediately after graduating, she moved to Germany and then to Iceland while her husband served in the U.S. diplomatic corps. They left the Foreign Service to make their home in Connecticut with their four children. For the past twenty years, her practice has been focused almost exclusively on QDROs.


  • The Connecticut Bar Association Honorable Anthony V. DeMayo Pro Bono Award 2015
  • The CBA Pro Bono Award 2008

QDRO Lectures: 

  • Connecticut Bar Association October 2017
  • Fairfield County Bar Association October 2017
  • Continuing Legal Education, Cheshire, CT December 2016
  • Litchfield County Bar Association Annual Law Day, April, 2015
  • Connecticut Judges’ Institute July, 2014
  • Fairfield County Bar Association, January 2008
  • Fairfield County Financial Planners September 2006
  • National Business Institute: annually with few exceptions from 2003 - present

Volunteer Positions:

  • 1993-2000 – Branford Soccer Club – coach
  • 2002 – Present: Catholic Family Services foster parent for newborns awaiting adoption
  • 2014 – Present: President, Hotchkiss Grove Association


Pamela W.

Great presentation. Very helpful.

Ruth R.

Very informative

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