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Qualified Domestic Relations Order: Explained

Holidays and Divorce: Ideas to Make It Work for the Kids

Filing for divorce is never easy, especially when there are so many issues for you and your spouse to resolve before a finalized divorce agreement can be signed. One of the biggest issues that you and your spouse must tackle is the division of marital property, including assets like retirement accounts and pension plans. Some of these marital assets will require a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) in addition to the standard divorce documentation, but do you know when a QDRO is required? If you need assistance, a Tampa family lawyer will understand the intricacies of QDROs and can help you with all of your Florida divorce legal needs.

What is a QDRO?

A qualified domestic relations order is required for all retirement and pension accounts that necessitate the need to identify an alternate payee on the account. A QDRO is an order signed off on by the court that recognizes the existence of an alternate payee on these specified accounts and assigns the right to receive some or all of the benefits of that account to the alternate payee. In divorce, this means that the spouse of the account holder can be identified as an alternate payee in order to receive some or all of the funds in that account as part of the divorce settlement.

A QDRO is required for all qualified retirement plans that fall under federal ERISA rules. This includes plans like 401(k)s and 403(b)s, but it does not cover accounts like military retirement, thrift savings plans, and Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs). Failure to recognize when a QDRO is required for accounts in your divorce case can mean leaving thousands of dollars on the table, and once a divorce is finalized it is nearly impossible to file a QDRO after the fact to gain access to those funds.

What Does a QDRO Require?

There are a few important pieces of information that must go into every QDRO in a Florida divorce case. The most pertinent information includes the following:

  • The plan owner’s name and contact information
  • The alternate payee’s name and contact information
  • The percentage of the plan going to the alternate payee
  • How that percentage was determined
  • The number of payments included in the QDRO, and
  • How the payments are to be made to the alternate payee

Failure to include this information can mean that the QDRO is rejected by the court or rejected by the retirement plan administrator. Therefore, it is critical that you have an experienced divorce attorney handle your case who has managed divorce settlements involving QDROs before.

Talk to Our Office Now

For more information about qualified domestic relations orders or for an initial consultation of your divorce case with a knowledgeable Florida divorce attorney, call the office or contact us today at the law office of Blair H. Chan, III in Tampa now.



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