A qualified domestic order (or QDRO for short) is an order that begins the process of splitting a retirement or pension plan. The judicial order essentially recognizes one spouse’s joint ownership of the funds in the other spouse’s retirement account.
A QDRO essentially transfers a portion of the individual’s pension or retirement plan to someone who is related to the person as a:
- Former spouse
A QDRO is only applicable to ERISA–qualifying plans. In the case of a divorce, the retirement plan can be treated as property to be separated between the two spouses, or it can alternatively be used to pay any alimony or child support, depending on the circumstances of the divorce.
Although the division of a retirement plan as an asset sounds simple enough, it can quickly become very technical when an ERISA–approved plan is involved. Since these plans are linked to government work and approval, there are special requirements and processes regarding the filing of a QDRO.
It is important to consult an attorney when dealing with one of these plans. There are many technical requirements to fulfill:
- Must be in a standalone document
- Must fulfill the QDRO standards
- Must satisfy the standards of the terms of the divorce
- Must be reviewed by the court to be deemed “qualified”
- Must be reviewed by the administrator of the retirement plan to make sure it complies the terms of the pension plan
Because of the special requirements of dividing or using the retirement plan for payment of alimony or child support, the help of an attorney is recommended. What is most important is to determine whether the retirement plan is backed by ERISA. If it is not covered by ERISA, then the order is not required.
Many factors determine how the fund will be divided, such as whether the marriage occurred before or after the retirement plan came into effect. If the plan started during the marriage, it could be divided 50/50, or it could be divided by a series of calculations on a pro rata basis for the duration of the plan versus the time in the marriage. Negotiating the latter can be very flexible for either party, so it is important to seek qualified representation when dealing with a QDRO situation. On top of all of this, the QDRO also has to comply with Connecticut state laws and taxation rules to be approved.
Consult with an Experienced Divorce Lawyer Today
Based upon all of the unique requirements of dividing an ERISA approved retirement or pension plan, it is important for you to contact the attorneys at The Law Offices of Piazza, Simmons & Grant to get the help and advice that you need to properly deal with this asset. Our attorneys help clients with every step of the process in finalizing a divorce and separating each spouse’s assets. Whether or not you think that an ERISA retirement plan will be part of your divorce proceedings, you can contact the experienced Connecticut attorneys at The Law Offices of Piazza, Simmons & Grant online or by calling 203-348-2465.