The Fourth Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined the qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) should have been vacated because the separation agreement called for the QDRO to terminate upon the wife’s (plaintiff’s) remarriage, which took place in 1995. The doctrine of laches was inapplicable:
“A QDRO obtained pursuant to a separation agreement can convey only those rights . . . which the parties [agreed to] as a basis for the judgment’ “… . Thus, it is well established that “a court errs in granting . . . a QDRO more expansive than an underlying written separation agreement” … , regardless whether the parties or their attorneys approved the QDRO without objecting to the inconsistency … . Under such circumstances, the court has the authority to vacate or amend the QDRO as appropriate to reflect the provisions of the separation agreement … . Here, the QDRO should never have been entered in the first instance because the clear and unambiguous language of the separation agreement provided that plaintiff’s rights in defendant’s pension benefits had terminated upon her remarriage.
We reject plaintiff’s contention that defendant is barred by laches from seeking to vacate the QDRO. “The defense of laches requires both delay in bringing an action and a showing of prejudice to the adverse party” … . Even assuming, arguendo, that there was a delay in seeking to vacate the QDRO, we conclude that plaintiff has not demonstrated that she was prejudiced by that delay … . Santillo v Santillo, 2017 NY Slip Op 08155, Fourth Dept 11-17-17
FAMILY LAW (QDRO WAS ENTERED IN VIOLATION OF THE SEPARATION AGREEMENT, SUPREME COURT SHOULD HAVE VACATED THE QDRO, LACHES INAPPLICABLE (FOURTH DEPT))/QUALIFIED DOMESTIC RELATIOINS ORDER (QDRO) (QDRO WAS ENTERED IN VIOLATION OF THE SEPARATION AGREEMENT, SUPREME COURT SHOULD HAVE VACATED THE QDRO, LACHES INAPPLICABLE (FOURTH DEPT))’LACHES (FAMILY LAW. MOTION TO VACATE QDRO, QDRO WAS ENTERED IN VIOLATION OF THE SEPARATION AGREEMENT, SUPREME COURT SHOULD HAVE VACATED THE QDRO, LACHES INAPPLICABLE (FOURTH DEPT))