My spouse says that her ERISA benefits have an "anti-alienation provision," what does this mean?

While ERISA benefits do have an anti-alienation provision, the law has a specific exception for benefits going to an alternate payee (you, in this case) if this is done under a "qualified domestic relations order," or QDRO (pronounced "quad-row"). Federal law specifies particular requirements for QDROs. Your lawyer can assist you.

Even without a QDRO, the intent of ERISA was that it not be a barrier to the recovery of property settlements, child support, and spousal support. The QDRO provision has clarified and strengthened this point.