Divorce

Divorce and Your Account

The information provided below is not intended as a substitute for the Revised Code or the Administrative Code Rules or for any state or federal law or regulation, nor will its interpretation prevail should a conflict arise between it and any law or regulation.

As an STRS Ohio member, your account may be marital property and the benefit payments you may be eligible for and/or elect to receive can be divided between you and your former spouse. The Court must issue a Division of Property Order (DOPO) providing for the division of the STRS Ohio account before any payments can be made to the former spouse. Payments are only payable at the time you elect to receive a benefit and/or lump-sum payment. Click here for further details about a DOPO.

Court Orders

Court Orders for Payments to Your Former Spouse After Your Death

There are no survivorship rights with a DOPO. The DOPO terminates upon death of the participant (STRS Ohio member), the death of the alternate payee (former spouse) or the termination of the STRS Ohio benefit, whichever occurs first. The Court can separately order that you select a service retirement plan of payment that provides a payment to your former spouse after your death. The Judge can also order that the former spouse remain beneficiary to a service retirement plan of payment if you have already retired. This is not the same as a DOPO. STRS Ohio needs to know whether or not you are required to name or keep your former spouse as beneficiary of a service retirement plan of payment. If you are required to name your former spouse as beneficiary of a service retirement plan of payment, STRS Ohio also needs to know what plan of payment you are required to select and the payment calculation.

A former spouse is not eligible for survivor benefits if a member is receiving a disability benefit.

If you are required to name your former spouse as beneficiary and select a service retirement plan of payment leaving a survivorship benefit to your former spouse after your death, you would use one of the following orders:

The court orders provided below are fillable PDFs and can be saved to your desktop for completion. Fillable fields are highlighted in the document. After completion of the fillable fields, the court order would then need to be printed and submitted to the Court.

  • Monthly dollar amount: Use this order if the Court orders a specific dollar amount be paid monthly upon your death. (For example, $100.00 per month.)
  • Specific percentage: Use this order if the Court orders a percentage of your entire benefit be paid monthly upon your death. (For example, 25% of your entire monthly benefit per month).
  • Specific percentage based on years as contributing member during marriage: Use this order if the Court orders a percentage of your monthly benefit, which represents a division of the martial years, be paid monthly upon your death. The Court must provide the number of years of marriage. (For example, 25% of 15.00 marital years of your entire monthly benefit per month.)

If you are not required to name or keep your former spouse as beneficiary or pay a DOPO benefit to former spouse use the order below:

If you are already retired, you may be able to change your plan of payment if your spouse no longer has any rights to your retirement account. Further information is available here.

You may also change your beneficiary designation for your one-time death benefit payment from STRS Ohio at any time through your Online Personal Account.

Obtaining Member Account Information

In order for the Court to determine how to divide your retirement benefit, you must obtain information about your account from STRS Ohio. STRS Ohio can only provide information about your member account to:

  1. You, because you are the member,
  2. A third party with your written authorization, or
  3. A Court pursuant to an order in the member’s domestic relations action. Subpoenas are not sufficient. It must be a court order issued by an Ohio Court pursuant to Ohio Revised Code (R.C.) § 3105.87. Click here for a court order to obtain member information.

Division of Property Order

The DOPO directs STRS Ohio to make payments directly to a former spouse (referred to as “Alternate Payee”) from a monthly benefit and/or lump-sum payment that a member (referred to as “Plan Participant” or “Participant”) elects to receive or is being paid.

The DOPO must be on the form required by Ohio Adm. Code 3307-9-01. This form is required by law and cannot be altered. No additions, modifications or deletions can be made. STRS Ohio will not accept an incomplete court order as final. A DOPO must be issued by a Court in the State of Ohio. (If you are getting divorced in another state, please call STRS Ohio toll-free at 888‑227‑7877.)

DOPO review prior to filing: Draft DOPOs can be faxed to STRS Ohio’s Legal Department at 614‑744‑3343 for review prior to filing with an Ohio court. Please allow at least 15 business days for review.

Membership in multiple public retirement systems: A separate DOPO must be submitted to each public retirement program with accounts to be divided. For example, a member may have an account with STRS Ohio and the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS) and/or the School Employees Retirement System of Ohio (SERS), so orders should be sent to each retirement program. If a participant chooses to retire on a combined basis with another public retirement program and the STRS Ohio account is being transferred to the other program, the DOPO will also be transferred with the account.

Completing a DOPO

  • This general information about completing a DOPO is provided to assist members and their attorneys and is not legal or tax advice.
  • The order must contain the current legal name, last four digits of the Social Security number, current address and current mailing address of the participant and alternate payee. The current addresses on the order must match the addresses on file with STRS Ohio.
  • The date of divorce, dissolution or legal separation must be listed on the order if the participant is receiving a benefit payment or has applied to receive a benefit payment.
  • The order must identify the types of payments to be divided. If no plan of payment or lump-sum payment is designated on the order, the alternate payee will receive payment from the first benefit payment and/or lump-sum payment for which the participant is eligible to apply for and receive. Please verify if the participant has a Defined Benefit Plan, Defined Contribution Plan or a Combined Plan and which types of payments the participant may be eligible to apply for and receive.
  • The amount paid to the alternate payee must be stated as a dollar amount or a percentage.
    • If stating the amount to be paid as a dollar amount, the following must be included:*
      • A monthly dollar amount should the participant elect a monthly benefit;
      • A monthly dollar amount and lump-sum dollar amount, should the participant elect both a monthly benefit and a Partial Lump-Sum Option Plan payment (PLOP); and/or
      • A lump-sum dollar amount, should the participant elect a one-time lump-sum payment, if the applicable type(s) of payment are designated on the order.

      *Paragraphs II(B)(a) and (b) must be fully completed even if the payment to the alternate payee is “$0.00” from the participant’s monthly and/or lump sum payment.

    • If stating the amount to be paid as a percentage, the following must be included:*
      • A percentage of a fraction applied to the periodic benefit and/or lump-sum payment with the numerator being the number of years the participant was a contributing member of STRS Ohio and married to the alternate payee. The number of marital years must be determined by the court and entered on the DOPO. STRS Ohio will not calculate the number of marital years.
      • The denominator will be the participant’s total years of service credit determined by STRS Ohio at the time the participant elects to receive a monthly benefit and/or lump-sum payment. If you are not retired, this fraction is multiplied against the periodic benefit and/or lump-sum payment the participant elects to receive, not the periodic benefit or lump-sum payment the participant was eligible to receive at the time of the divorce. (The only periodic benefit STRS Ohio issues are monthly benefit payments.)
      • If you are a benefit recipient, the fraction is multiplied against the gross monthly benefit you were receiving at the time the divorce decree, dissolution or legal separation became final.

      *Both Paragraphs II(B)(2)(a) and (b) must be completed even if the percentage is 0%.

  • If the participant is enrolled in the Defined Contribution Plan, the amount to be paid to the alternate payee must be stated as a percentage of a fraction.
  • If the benefit to be divided is a reemployed retiree annuity or a reemployed lump-sum payment under R.C. § 3307.352, the amount payable to the alternate payee must be stated as a dollar amount.
  • If the participant may be eligible for more than one benefit or lump-sum payment (such as a service retirement benefit and a reemployed retiree benefit) the amount, if any, to be paid to the alternate payee from each benefit or lump-sum payment must be stated on the order. In certain instances, more than one DOPO filed on the same date may be required to specify the amount payable to the alternate payee for each benefit type.

Submitting a DOPO

A certified copy of the DOPO issued by the court must be transmitted to STRS Ohio by the Ohio Clerk of Courts pursuant to R.C. § 3105.88. STRS Ohio will determine if the DOPO transmitted by Ohio Clerk of Courts complies with R.C. §§ 3105.80 to 3105.90. A DOPO that does not comply with these sections of the law will be rejected by STRS Ohio within 60 days after receipt. A copy of the rejection letter sent to the Ohio Clerk of Courts will also be sent to the participant, alternate payee, and attorneys listed on the DOPO, if applicable.

STRS Ohio will confirm the receipt and retention of a DOPO that is compliant with R.C. §§ 3105.80 to 3105.90, in writing to the Ohio Clerk of Courts (pursuant to R.C. §§ 3105.88 and 3307.37). A copy of the retention letter sent to the Ohio Clerk of Courts will also be sent to the participant, alternate payee, and attorneys listed on the order, if applicable.

STRS Ohio will charge an administrative fee for processing payments under a DOPO, at the time the alternate payee becomes eligible to receive a DOPO payment. The fee is equal to the lesser of $400 or 1% of the amount the participant is or would be eligible to receive as a lump-sum payment under the participant’s plan. The fee is deducted before the calculation of the limit specified by R.C. § 3105.85, and is divided equally between the plan participant and alternate payee.

Child Support Order

STRS Ohio will withhold child support from your retirement benefit or lump-sum payment upon receipt of a support withholding order. There is not a specific form for a support withholding order, but it has to be issued in accordance with R.C. Chapters 3119, 3121, 3123, 3125 or § 3115.50. The order will require STRS Ohio to deduct a specified amount from the member's monthly benefit or lump-sum payment and forward it to the Ohio Child Support Payment Central Office on your behalf.

If you are not receiving a monthly benefit or a lump-sum payment, STRS Ohio cannot honor the support withholding order. When you file to receive a monthly benefit or lump-sum payment, STRS Ohio will notify the agency that you will begin receiving benefits and give the agency a deadline for submitting a new support withholding order. Your monthly benefit or lump-sum payment will not be processed until the deadline is passed.

Once STRS Ohio begins withholding support pursuant to an order it cannot stop withholding until it receives a subsequent order changing or stopping the child support withholding. You must obtain the order if you believe the amount of your child support should change or that you should not be obligated to pay child support anymore.

Beneficiary Designation

Divorce, marriage dissolution or legal separation revokes a previously filed beneficiary designation and invokes the statutory succession:

  1. Spouse
  2. Qualified Children
  3. Non-qualified children (share equally in a withdrawal of the STRS Ohio account)
  4. Dependent parent, if monthly benefits are elected
  5. Parents (share equally in a withdrawal of the STRS Ohio account)
  6. Estate

Beneficiary information can be updated through your Online Personal Account by selecting “Member Information” at the top of the page and then under “Change Beneficiaries” select “UPDATE MY BENEFICIARIES.” Click here to log in to your Online Personal Account. This information can also be updated by completing and returning the Beneficiary Designation, or by contacting the Member Services Center toll-free at 888‑227‑7877 (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.–5 p.m.). For more information about survivor benefits, please refer to the Survivor Benefits brochure.

Disclaimers

This information is a summary written in plain language for use by STRS Ohio members. It is not intended as a substitute for the Ohio Revised Code or the Ohio Administrative Code or for any state or federal law or regulation, nor will its interpretation prevail should a conflict arise between it and any law or regulation. This general information about completing a Division of Property Order is provided to assist members and their attorneys and is not legal or tax advice.