A QDRO is a qualified domestic relations order, which is a special court order that splits or changes the ownership of a retirement plan so that each spouse gets his or her share of the plan. QDRO rules only apply to certain types of retirement plans, such as 401(k)s, pensions, and 403(b)s. Military, federal, state or local government-sponsored plans may also be divided by similar orders.
Under the law, a QDRO gives a different payee the right to receive part of a retirement plan. Therefore, you only need a QDRO if your divorce settlement gives you the right to receive a portion of your ex-spouse’s retirement benefits. There are legal requirements that a QDRO must meet in order to be effective. It must set forth the names and mailing addresses of both the plan participant and the spouse, the amount or percentage of the retirement benefits, the name of the plan to which the order applies, and the number of payments or period to which the order applies, among other requirements.
If you don’t get a QDRO, which happens after the divorce is finalized, you may not get the portion of the pension or the retirement account of your former spouse to which you are entitled. You may not be aware of this mistake until months or years have passed. Therefore, it’s very important that as soon as the divorce agreement is signed and the judge has issued the judgment of divorce, that your attorney submits a QDRO for the judge’s signature. The QDRO then must be sent to the retirement plan’s administrator.
If you are facing a divorce in New York, it’s important that you choose a very experienced divorce attorney who knows the proper steps and processes to follow before, during, and after a divorce, such as filing a QDRO. Call the New York Divorce Attorneys at Friedman & Ranzenhofer at 716-542-5444. Our attorneys will be happy to help you through this difficult time.