Retirement awarded to spouse in divorce-husband now dying


I am asking this for my father in law. He was divorced between 2002-2005. In the divorce settlements his exwife was awarded (among other things) $80,000 worth of his retirement. At that time, the account had well over $300,000 and now it has roughly $175,000 (due to the stock market). There was no provision that there was to be a certain percentage, just a dollar amount.

So now, my father in law has been diagnosed with end stage lung cancer. He has little time left. His wife has made his life hell for a long time and he does not want her to get anything else from him. He continues to pay her alimony and child support for his 17 year old.

The question is…if he retires or they deem him disabled and he is able pull out his money and then uses it to pay off debt (such as his house and then signs it over to his child) and his ex does not find out until after his death, what can she legally do about it?

Second question…if he never retires and the retirement plan sits as it is, do the beneficiaries get the money? Will she then have to bring lawsuit against her children?

From my understanding there is no “clause” in his retirement account that she would automatically get the money. He has children as beneficiary. The $80,000 she got was supposed to be transferred into and IRA or 401K, not just cash. He is on long term disability and has not retired as of now.


She can sue his estate for the funds owed to her. If the funds have not been distributed at the time of his death she will have to make a claim against the estate.