QBF assists divorce attorneys and individual clients with the preparation and approval of QDROs. The QDRO process can begin during the divorce proceeding (by identifying and understanding what assets can be divided and including the specific requirements for each in the parties’ settlement agreement and/or divorce decree) or after the divorce process has been finalized. QBF will draft each QDRO to comply with the term of the parties’ divorce.

What is a QDRO?

“QDRO” is an acronym for the legal term, “qualified domestic relations order.” This is a court order which assigns to an “alternate payee” (usually a former spouse) the right to receive all or a portion of retirement plan benefits payable to a “participant” (employee). A QDRO’s requirements are defined by the Internal Revenue Code and by the retirement plan which is being divided. A QDRO may also be used to collect alimony and/or child support payments. A QDRO is a legal document with specific and technical requirements, and should be drafted by an experienced QDRO attorney.

When should a divorce attorney or individual client reach out to QBF?

The QDRO process can begin when you are initiating, or during, your divorce proceedings, or after your divorce is final. Specifically, QBF can assist divorce attorneys and individuals in the identification of retirement and savings assets, and other executive compensation types of arrangements, which should be included in the marital estate.

QBF can prepare a QDRO before you file your divorce or separation documents with the court, after you have filed but before the divorce has become final, or after your divorce is completed.

Why do you need a QDRO?

A QDRO is needed when one party in a divorce has been assigned a portion of the other party’s retirement or pension plan, or 401(k) or savings plan.

A QDRO can also be used to capture child support and alimony obligations.

What is the QDRO process:

You can click the flowchart below to view a larger PDF version.

Individual QDRO Flowchart

What types of plans must be divided with a QDRO?

Not only is it crucial to identify which types of retirement and savings assets exist, but also to understand how (and if) each of these types of assets may be divided. QBF’s attorneys assist divorce attorneys and individual clients during divorce proceedings to identify what types of qualified retirement and savings plan assets exist, and to identify other types of non-qualified retirement and savings assets and executive compensation.

Below are examples of some of the types of assets which must be divided by QDRO:

  • tax qualified defined benefit plans
    • retirement and pension plans
    • cash balance plans
    • money purchase pension plans
  • tax qualified defined contribution plans
    • 401(k) plans
    • profit sharing plans
    • 403/457 plans
    • Employee stock ownership plans (ESOP)

Are there other types of retirement savings plans or executive compensation which cannot be divided by QDRO, but which should be considered in equitably dividing marital assets?

  • Individual Retirement Accounts
  • Nonqualified Deferred Compensation Plans
  • Federal Governmental Plans
    • Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS)
    • Federal Employment Retirement System (FERS)
    • Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)
  • Military Retirement
  • Stock Options
    • Incentive Stock Options
    • Nonqualified Stock Options