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What Does a QDRO Attorney Do for Divorce?

Handling Complex Assets in a Divorce

If you are getting divorced and have questions about dividing retirement assets, you may need to speak with a QDRO attorney. This type of lawyer specializes in creating qualified domestic relations orders, which are necessary to divide pensions, 401(k)s, and other retirement accounts fairly between former spouses. QDRO attorneys can help make the divorce process much easier and ensure that all your retirement assets are accounted for.

What is a QDRO?

A QDRO is a Qualified Domestic Relations Order. A court order assigns rights to retirement benefits in a divorce or legal separation. A QDRO can divide public and private retirement benefits, including 401(k)s, 403(b)s, profit-sharing plans, pensions, and IRAs.

The QDRO allows the non-employee spouse to receive their share of the retirement benefits without paying taxes on the withdrawal. QDROs are also used to allocate child support and spousal maintenance payments from retirement accounts.

How Does a QDRO Work?

For a QDRO to be valid, it must meet specific requirements outlined in the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and Internal Revenue Code. QDROs must be signed by a judge and specifically state how the retirement benefits are divided.

The QDRO must also include the following information:

  • The name and last known mailing address of the participant and each alternate payee

  • The name and last known mailing address of the retirement plan holder

  • The account number or other unique identifier for the retirement plan

  • The dollar amount or percentage of benefits to be paid to each alternate payee or the manner in which such amount or percentage is to be determined

  • The number of payments or period over which such payments are to be made, or how such number or period is to be determined

  • A description of each type or source of benefits to be paid to each alternate payee

  • Each party's waiver of rights to future benefits under the plan

  • Any other terms and conditions necessary to effectuate the division of benefits.

Once a judge signs the QDRO, it must be submitted to the retirement plan administrator for approval. Once approved, the QDRO becomes a binding contract between the participant and each alternate payee. The QDRO can then be used to direct the retirement plan administrator to pay benefits to the alternate payee.

Do I Need a QDRO Attorney?

While you are not required to have an attorney to prepare a QDRO, it is highly recommended that you seek legal counsel to ensure that the QDRO is appropriately prepared and meets all the requirements set forth by ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code.

An experienced QDRO attorney will be familiar with the QDRO process and can help you ensure that your QDRO is prepared correctly. QDRO attorneys can also help you negotiate with your spouse and their attorney to reach an agreement on the terms of the QDRO.

Ask Your Attorney for More Information

If you have questions about QDROs or wish to contact a QDRO attorney for part of your divorce, reach out to the team at Verner Brumley Mueller Parker. We can help you work to secure your best interests.

Learn more or schedule a consultation by calling (214) 225-6766 or visiting our website.