A few definitions:
- A Qualified Domestic Relation Order (QDRO) – is a judgment or order that is made pursuant to state domestic laws and recognizes the existence of an alternate payee’s right to receive, all or a portion of the benefits payable with respect to a participant under a pension or retirement plan.
- Participant – The person that the plan belongs to is the participant.
- Alternate Payee – Usually the former spouse (but could also be a child or other dependent) of the participant that is entitled to receive all or a portion of proceeds under the plan. For purposes of the QDRO provisions, an alternate payee cannot be anyone other than a spouse, former spouse, child, or other dependent of a participant.
What brought about the creation of this document?
- The QDRO was created by the Retirement Equity Act of 1984 as an amendment to the anti-alienation provisions of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), that protected retirement plan assets from creditors.
Who needs a QDRO?
- If you are awarded certain sums of money or a percentage of a retirement or pension plan and you want to collect, you will need a QDRO.
- Your divorce decree alone is not enough.
Who is responsible to provide this document to the court?
- Attorney – Generally the obligated attorney is the attorney representing the alternate payee.
- Pro Se – If you will be receiving the funds (alternate payee) this is generally your responsibility.
Who must approve a QDRO?
- The plan administrator; and,
- The judge in your divorce case
When is the QDRO done?
- It can be started before a divorce is final, but cannot be completed until after the final decree. The sooner after the final decree the better.
Special thanks to MEM for her generous contribution.