In order to preserve your right to ED, what are the specific steps you need to take before you get divorced? How does this work exactly?
You must file a claim with the court for Equitable Distribution. As ED is a right incident to marriage, a claim for the same must be made prior to the dissolution of the marrigage.
Just to make sure I am clear, an actual claim must be filed with the court, correct? It is not enough to be working through your attorneys to try and create a separation agreement? Correct? And does this mean you are definitely going to court or can you still work it out through your attorneys outside of court?
Yes, in order to have retirement distributed via a Qualified Domestic Relations Order you must have an equitable distribution claim pending. The Separation Agreement spells out the terms of the transfer and normally also states which party will be responsible for paying for the fees associated with the QDRO and that the same will be done via Consent Order.