Honolulu, Hawaii Divorce & Retirement Issues Attorney
Sheila Vierra, Attorney at Law, LLC900 Fort Street Mall
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813
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Law Firm OverviewSheila Vierra, Attorney at Law, LLC handles family law cases involving divorce, property division, child support and custody, paternity, guardianship, and alimony.
With over 20 years of experience practicing law in Hawaii, our firm offers the sophisticated representation of a large law firm, coupled with the personal attention and accessible services of a small one. When working with clients, firm principal, attorney Sheila Vierra is dedicated to being a reliable source of advice and support, maintaining open lines of communication, promptly returning phone calls and offering weekend and evening office hours by appointment.
From a potentially costly divorce to needing assistance regarding the division of retirement plan assets in a domestic relations proceeding, we have the skills and expertise to help.
Areas of Law
Areas of Law Description
Our practice areas include:
One spouse must file a complaint with the family court in order to obtain a divorce. Each divorce is analyzed on an individual basis. Spousal support, or alimony, may or may not be awarded depending on thirteen factors set out in Hawaii law that the judge is mandated to consider, including but not limited to the condition in which each party will be left by the divorce. Child custody and visitation are awarded based on what the judge deems is in the best interest of the child, and the judge generally attempts to ensure that a child experiences continuing, meaningful timesharing with both parents.
- Property Division
As divorce proceedings begin, all property owned by either or both spouses at the time of divorce is divided on an equitable basis, this means according to what the court determines is fair and equitable applying Hawaii law. To make a determination, the court examines the specific circumstances of the case, including the circumstances surrounding the acquisition of each asset owned individually or jointly at the time of marriage and at the time of divorce. An experienced family law attorney can protect your interests in each asset throughout this process, and help negotiate a division of property that will be fair and equitable under Hawaii law.
- Retirement Division
When spouses divorce, all of their marital assets are divided, including qualifying retirement and pension funds. There are many complex issues involved in identifying which retirement funds are subject to division, which are exempt, and how such funds should be divided.
- Estate Planning
Our firm offers various estate planning services, including preparation of wills, trust, advance health care directive, financial and Medical Powers of Attorney.
- Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDROs)
AQDRO, or Qualified Domestic Relations Order, institutes a right for an "alternate payee," to recover an equitable, or fair, share of an employee's retirement benefits during a divorce, separation, or other family law proceeding. An alternate payee may be a spouse, former spouse, child, or other dependent. Usually a former non-employee spouse is the beneficiary and is paid to satisfy family support or property obligations. Without a QDRO, an alternate payee is unable to recover any portion of the employee's retirement benefits, which often amount to a couple's most significant assets.
- Federal ERISA
Retirement plans must comply with both Hawaii and federal laws. The Employee Retirement Income Security Act, or ERISA, is a federal law governing qualified pension plans in private companies in order to protect individual employees. Pension plans may be qualified or unqualified. Nonqualified plans are usually state or municipal plans, and cannot be distributed with a QDRO. Consult an attorney to determine the extent of your retirement benefits, and whether they are protected by ERISA.
- Retirement Plans
There are many types of retirement plans which, when qualified under ERISA, are usually divisible by a QDRO. ERISA covers two types of plans, including:
• Defined Benefit Plans
Defined benefit plans are the same as company pensions. In these plans, an employee receives specified life-long monthly payments after retirement, or an "annuity," based on his or her salary and length of time with a company.
• Defined Contribution Plans
Defined contribution plans require that the employee, employer, or both, make payments to the employee's retirement account. These plans include 401(k)s, 403(b)s, employee stock ownerships, money-purchase, and profit-sharing. At the time of retirement, the employee generally receives the balance of the plan, despite higher or lower fluctuations during employment.
- Military Retirement
The Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act (USFSPA) governs how military retirement benefits are computed and divided after a divorce. To be able to divide and distribute any military retirement funds, the spouses must have been married 10 years or longer while the military member was on active duty. Determining how much of military retirement is marital property and how much is separate property may be possible only after retirement has occurred, as it is usually distributed in proportion to the percent earned during the marriage.
Ms. Sheila Vierra
Estate Planning, Family Law
More Information on Sheila Vierra, Attorney at Law, LLCHonolulu, Hawaii Divorce Attorney
Family Lawyer in Honolulu, Hawaii
Lawyer Handling Retirement Plan in Honolulu, HI