QDROs - Qualified Domestic Relations Orders

Divorces commonly involve the division of retirement accounts. Most retirement plans permit the division of accounts held under the plans pursuant to divorce. (Some state-run plans however, do not.)

Division of retirement plans are governed first by federal and/or state laws, and secondly by the retirement plan administrator’s internal rules and procedures. Because of all the rules and regulations pertaining to retirement accounts, division of retirement accounts pursuant to divorce must be handled with care and attention.

Most retirement plans are divided by court order (typically but not always a QDRO). That order is drafted by an attorney representing one of the parties and then submitted to the judge presiding over the case for his signature. A certified copy of that order is then forwarded to the plan administrator for approval. The plan administrator will determine whether that order complies with the law and the plan’s rules.

Depending on the disposition of the divorce case (for example, whether the case was settled between the parties or determined by a judge after a trial) and how the final documents were drafted (settlement agreement and/or divorce decree), there might only be one attempt to get it right.

Because of the technical aspects, most divorce attorneys prefer not to draft QDROs and frequently will refer you to seek other counsel to complete that process (usually after the divorce is final). If you need to divide a retirement account, contact an experienced divorce lawyer at Martin & Wallentine, LLC. We will provide your legal matter the care and attention it deserves.

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