Court Found Cause to Grant Ex-Wife Relief from the Stay in Order to Have a State Court Issue a QDRO

Court Found Cause to Grant Ex-Wife Relief from the Stay in Order to Have a State Court Issue a QDRO

Before the Court is the Motion for Relief From Stay to Proceed in Domestic Relations Court (the “Motion”) filed by Lisa  (the “Movant”), the former wife of debtor-respondent (the “Debtor”). The Movant asks the Court to lift the automatic stay, pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 362(d), to allow her to proceed in state court to obtain a qualified domestic relations order (“QDRO”) entitling her to distribution of certain funds from her former husband’s retirement plans, including a “Cash Balance Plan through Hewitt Associates” and his 401(k) plan with Frontier Communications.

On August 8, 2012, the Lorain County, Ohio Court of Common Pleas’ Domestic Relations Division entered a final decree of divorce between the Debtor and the Movant. The decree alluded to a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO).  While it is unclear whether any such order was ever prepared during the two years between the entry of the divorce decree and the Debtor’s chapter 13 bankruptcy filing on September 4, 2014, the parties agree that no qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) was ever entered by the state court.

On October 22, 2014, the Movant filed a proof of claim that did not include amounts related to the division of the Debtor’s retirement plans. The Movant’s proof of claim did reference an unknown amount of “stock,” apparently in reference to a separate obligation under the divorce decree to divide equally certain Frontier Communications stock options. The claims bar date passed on January 14, 2015. The Court confirmed the Debtor’s chapter 13 plan on October 23, 2015.

On December 14, 2015, the Movant filed the instant motion for relief from stay authorizing her to proceed in domestic relations court for the purposes of allowing that court to enter one or more QDROs necessary to effectuate a division of the Debtor’s retirement accounts, as well as to receive a share of the Frontier Communications stock options and $4,000 in connection with the sale of the marital residence. The Debtor filed a response that simply registering his objection.

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