On August 9, 1984, Congress passed the Retirement Equity Act (REA). Signed into law on August 23, 1984, this Act had, as one of its purposes, the clarification of the confusion concerning the anti-alienation rules originally adopted ten years earlier. Unfortunately, this most laudable endeavor, carried out with very limited objectives, was without a view towards the creation of a comprehensive and workable statutory framework. As will be seen, the creation of the Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) by the REA, establishes an island of relative certainty. This island sits, however, in a sea of assumption and supposition leaving plan administrators, participants, and the courts with little congressional guidance on the spendthrift standards to be applied.
Ronald I. Kirschbaum, ERISA Spendthrift Rules - It Just Shouldn't Be This Hard, 11 Campbell L. Rev. 29 (1988).