Qualified Domestic Relations Orders-Dividing a Retirement Plan

When couples going through a divorce have retirement accounts, pensions, IRA’s or other qualifying retirement benefits or employment packages, a QDRO or qualified Domestic Relations Order may be necessary. A QDRO is a legal Court order that directs a retirement plan administrator to divide a party’s plan according to the order. The Court order is typically prepared after the Divorce is finalized and according to the terms of the Judgment of the court or the agreement of the parties to the divorce. Many Financial companies have QDRO’s online as part of their client services. This streamlines the cost and time the process take to get the order signed by the court to divide the assets.

Most plans require basic information to be included in the court orders:

  • Name of the parties
  • Case information
  • The amount or percentage of the plan, how it will be divided, and when
  • Whether or not the employee spouse has reached the age of retirement
  • Information for Joinder of the Plan

QDRO’S-Getting it Done

We assist our Client’s to find qualified QDRO counsel to draft the proposed QDRO.  QDRO counsel charge a separate fee for Joining the Plan and Drafting the Qualified Domestic Relations Order.

After your divorce is finalized, you will need certain documentation to obtain the proper QDRO for your plan. As mentioned before, many companies already have a form couples can use by going online and filling them out online. Similarly, if the company does not offer an online version for its customers, you will require the assistance of a QDRO attorney, who specializes in QDRO preparation. These are counsel that in general only prepare QDRO’s as their role in the famiy law practice. We can assist in finding appropriate QDRO counsel, whether you need a QDRO in Beverly Hills or a QDRO in Los Angeles.  Our fees for this service is separate from QDRO counsel fees and costs.

QDRO-Steps in Court to Obtain a Qualified Domestic Relations Order

Once you have selected a QDRO attorney to draft and obtain the QDRO, you must begin the process to have it prepared for submission to the court.  Your QDRO attorney will begin the process after they receive the Divorce Judgment, Retirement Plan information and any other information necessary to prepare the court paperwork.  Once this information is received, the following will occur:

  • QDRO counsel will join the Retirement plan as a party to the Divorce
  • Draft a Copy of the QDRO for the parties, family counsel and Plan Administrator to review
  • Obtain signatures and approval of the QDRO from the parties and the Plan Administrator
  • Submit the QDRO for approval by the Court
  • Serve a copy of the Qualified Domestic Relations Order on the Plan to make payment according to the order

It is important to hire experienced QDRO counsel to divide retirement accounts accurately.  While we do not draft QDRO’s, our firm assists clients by reviewing Divorce settlements and Judgments in order to assist in the selection of the appropriate QDRO lawyer to draft the order.  Additionally, as family law counsel, l can help review Judgments to enforce orders under the terms of the Divorce decree to obtain QDRO counsel and the Court order.

Contact us by phone at 310-246-3900 send an email to bradley@sandlerlawfirm.com to request trusted representation.