The Police Retirement System of St. Louis, Missouri

The apportionment of pension benefits in dissolution proceedings involving members of the Police Retirement System of St. Louis (“PRS-STL”) can present unique challenges.

First, as a governmental entity administering a “governmental plan,” PRS-STL is not subject to most of the provisions of ERISA, per 29 U.S.C. § 1003(b)(1).

Second, the state statutes governing PRS-STL and therefore serving as its “Plan Document,” contain an “anti-assignment” statute, § 86.353, RSMo., which provides benefits accrued to a member of PRS-STL are “not subject to execution, garnishment, attachment or any other process whatsoever and are unassignable …”

For these reasons, PRS-STL cannot and does not honor a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (“QDRO”), insofar as that term is defined in ERISA Section 206(d) [29 U.S.C. § 1056(d)].  Since ERISA requires a QDRO to create or recognize the existence of an “alternate payee” with the right to receive all or a portion of a member’s benefit, the concept of an alternate payee would be counter to the aforementioned anti-assignment statute.

However, PRS-STL can and does honor domestic relations court orders apportioning benefits by way of paying the totality of a member’s monthly benefits into the registry of the court having jurisdiction over the dissolution action, and having the court split that amount and paying each party the respective portions.  Alternatively, if the parties agree, an order can direct that the totality of the member’s monthly benefits be paid into a designated financial institution on behalf of the PRS-STL member, and that member make an electronic transfer of the ex-spouse’s share.

PRS must have a court order specifying how any System benefits are being split and whether the proceeds are to be paid into the court registry or to the System member for distribution.

Please keep in mind that this court order is separate from the dissolution decree itself.  The order should be directed specifically towards the PRS-STL and must include a command to PRS-STL to pay the benefits to either the court registry or to the PRS-STL member for electronic transfer of the ex-spouse’s share and include either the respective amounts to be paid to each party or a formula instructing PRS-STL how to calculate the amounts to be paid to each party.

The below link provides suggestions to consider in drafting a court order on proceeds from PRS-STL:

Suggestions for Drafting Domestic Relations Orders

PRS-STL can, upon request, supply an attorney with a template for a court order to be used as a basis for the actual court order to be approved and filed in the court case.

Information concerning the above issues can be obtained by contacting the Executive Director at:

Once a proposed court order has been approved, signed and entered by the court, a copy should be provided to PRS-STL.  PRS-STL cannot commence payment of a pension that is the subject of a dissolution decree until it has received the signed court order directing it to pay.