New Jersey State, Major City & Public School Retirement Systems

The New Jersey state-administered retirement systems are not regulated by ERISA, although court decisions, and opinion rendered by the attorney general’s office have, resulted in the retirement systems implementing matrimonial and civil union dissolution orders that have granted alimony, support, or equitable distribution against a member’s monthly pension.

According to New Jersey Statute, N.J.S.A., 3B:3.14, even if the designation of beneficiary form states that a former spouse/partner and/or relatives of the former spouse/partner are beneficiaries for the pension or insurance they cannot receive the benefit unless "[c]ourt orders are filed that specially designate the former spouse/partner to receive a pension and/or life insurance benefit; or signing a designation of beneficiary form after the final date of judgment that names the former spouse/partner and/or relatives of the former spouse/partner as pension and/or life insurance beneficiaries."

Matrimonial/civil union dissolution orders concerning the distribution of a pension do not take affect until the member retires, after which he or she begins receiving a monthly allowance. A court order designates a dollar amount or percentage, or a percentage based on the number of years of pensionable service accrued during the marriage/civil union. This amount is withheld and sent directly to the Division of Pensions and Benefits and to the former spouse/partner unless the order specifies another payee, such as a probation department. "Any ordered withholding pay to a former spouse/partner from the retirement allowance is terminated upon the death or the death of the former spouse/partner." Learn more by reading our FAQs below.


QDRO New Jersey State Employees Deferred Compensation Plan
(New Jersey Domestic Relations Order)
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QDRO The Judicial Retirement System of New Jersey
(New Jersey Domestic Relations Order)
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QDRO The Police and Firemen’s Retirement System of New Jersey
(New Jersey Domestic Relations Order)
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QDRO The Public Employees’ Retirement System of New Jersey
(New Jersey Domestic Relations Order)
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QDRO The State Police Retirement System of New Jersey
(New Jersey Domestic Relations Order)
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QDRO The Teachers’ Pension and Annuity Fund of New Jersey
(New Jersey Domestic Relations Order)
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Frequently Asked Questions:

Q. Must a spouse share his or her State of New Jersey retirement benefits in a divorce?
A. Depending on the divorce decree, a spouse may be awarded a portion of the pension benefits.
Q. Can the former spouse receive payments from the New Jersey Division of Pensions and Benefits immediately?
A. No. PERA payments are made only when the member spouse ends his or her employment, or applies for a benefit or refund when his or her benefits become payable.
Q. After a member ends his or her employment, can the former spouse receive his or her share in a lump sum payment?
A. If the member decides on monthly payments, the former spouse must accept the same payment regime.
Q. Do payments to a former spouse require a court order?
A. The New Jersey Division of Pensions and Benefits requires a certified copy of the marriage dissolution or separate order dividing a New Jersey Division of Pensions and Benefits pension (or a temporary retraining order preventing the application for a refund) before dividing the monthly pension.
Q. Can beneficiaries chosen at retirement be changed later?
A. No. Option beneficiaries chosen at retirement cannot be modified regardless of changes in the marital/partnership status.
Q. Can payments to a former spouse continue after his or her death?
A. Yes. If the member is a member of the New Jersey Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) or the Teachers’ Pension and Annuity Fund (TPAF), he or she can select an option beneficiary to receive a lifetime monthly pension benefit upon his or her death.

If the former spouse/partner is designated as a PERS or TPAF pension Beneficiary, either voluntarily by the member or by court order, “the surviving former spouse/member is entitled to the survivor’s benefit as long as he or she lives.”

If another person is designated as the beneficiary of the PERS or TPAF pension option, the divorced spouse/partner is not entitled to any equitable distributions from the survivor’s benefit.

Q. Does the New Jersey Division of Pensions and Benefits accept out-of-state divorce decrees?
A. Yes, but the decree must be filed in New Jersey before the New Jersey Division of Pensions and Benefits can administer it.
Q. Does a former spouse remain the beneficiary if designated before the divorce?
A. No. Under New Jersey law, the marriage dissolution decree revokes the designation of the spouse as beneficiary. If the divorce decree requires that a former spouse be designated a beneficiary, the member must complete a Pensions and Benefits Change Form.
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