“What I like best about my job is making a difference for my clients who are often in difficult situations.”
Since 1994, Louise Nixon’s law practice has focused on retirement benefits, specifically determining the community or marital interest in pension benefits earned through employment and in consulting and/or drafting appropriate orders for the division and disposition of those interests. Ms. Nixon is founder and president of QDRO Benefits Law Group, APLC (www.qdrobenefitslawgroup.com).
Ms. Nixon spent many years practicing with Laquer, Urban, Clifford & Hodge LLP, a firm known for representing several union multi-employer trust funds, such as the Operating Engineers Pension Trust. While at the firm, Ms. Nixon managed all aspects of the review and approval process of QDROs, handled federal court litigation and negotiated cases in the employee benefits field involving complex pension issues. As a plan attorney, she drafted plan “sample QDROs” and “QDRO procedures,” and mediated between parties and the plan to resolve pension disputes.
Ms. Nixon keeps abreast of changes to ERISA, case law, other governmental codes or regulations affecting retirement plans. Her years of experience as an ERISA attorney enables her to prepare QDROs for all types of plans for parties in a divorce, to comprehensively review QDROs already prepared for compliance and fairness, and to reach solutions to complex pension issues. When retained by one or both parties in a divorce, Ms. Nixon incorporates her skills and experiences as a plan attorney in drafting the QDROs and maneuvering through the plan approval process. Over Ms. Nixon’s tenure in this area of law, she estimates to have drafted, reviewed and issued opinions on well over 10,000 QDROs.
Ms. Nixon received her BA from the University of California, Davis in 1984 and her JD from Whittier Law School in 1993. Before she began her legal career, Ms. Nixon worked as a legislative aide in Washington, D.C. and as public relations director for the Los Angeles World Affairs Council. Personally Ms. Nixon is involved with Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority as well as local church and community activities.
Ms. Nixon is a recurrent family law court appointed expert on QDROs. She is a frequent speaker for family law groups and Bar Associations, Family Law Executive Committee for the State Bar of California, employee benefit groups, and local to national continuing legal education (CLE) organizations, including California Family Law Reports (CFLR) a division of Thomson Reuters. She has written articles for the ACFLS and ABA Newsletter. She has been quoted in publications including the NY Times and WSJ. Ms. Nixon has been interviewed on Women’s Radio Network, Divorce Talk Radio, and Kobylt and Friends /RadioTV.
- Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (“QDROs”) for private retirement plans
- Domestic Relations Orders (“DROs”) for nonqualified plans
- Domestic Relations Orders (“DROs”) for public retirement plans
- Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”)
- IRC 408 Division Orders for individual retirement accounts (“IRAs”)
- Harriett Buhai Center for Family Law, Board Member
- Western Pension & Benefits Council – Los Angeles
- Los Angeles County Bar Association
- Pasadena Bar Association
- Los Angeles Collaborative Family Law Association
- QDRONES, a national study group
- Essentials on the Division of Retirement Benefits
- Hot Topic Retirement Benefit Issues For The Family Law Attorney
- Avoiding Disaster and Dealing with ERISA
- What Every Family Law Attorney Should Know When Drafting Judgment Language To Divide Retirement Benefits In Divorce (Practice Tips On How To Protect Your Clients’ Rights And Avoid Pitfalls)
- Retirement Division Issues With IRAs
- ERISA Cases That Impact Family Law Attorneys
- State Bar of California
- State Bar of Texas
- Repeatedly recognized as one of California’s Top Attorneys for Employee Benefits (as published in Pasadena Magazine)
- Pro Bono Attorney of the Year, 2012 Recipient, Harriett Buhai Center for Family Law
- Hall of Fame Award, 2015 Recipient, Harriett Buhai Center for Family Law
For over a decade, Ms. Nixon has prepared pro bono QDROs for the Harriett Buhai Center for Family Law (hbcfl.org), a non-profit which provides free legal services for low income families in turmoil, and she continues to serve on its Board. “I regularly prepare QDROs for the Center often for someone such as a single mother living on the streets with children. Many times there are pension funds from the father’s employer that I can obtain for that mother to get her and her children off the streets!”