For some couples, a divorce judgment is all that they need to resolve their property settlement. But for those couples with one or more retirement accounts or pension funds, an additional document must be drafted and filed with the court in order for benefits to be correctly apportioned to the proper individuals.
An experienced attorney can help you learn how to protect your property and retirement accounts when possible in a divorce.
What document will couples need to execute?
Qualified domestic relations orders (QDRO) must be approved by the court before any of the plan participant's benefits can be disbursed.
What are QDROs used for?
Dependent upon circumstances, a QDRO can be used to fulfill child support obligations, as alimony or to split the community property assets after a divorce.
Who may be entitled to these assets?
In addition to the plan participant, those who may be assigned benefits include the plan participant's current or former spouse, child or another dependent known as an alternate payee.
QDROs differ from divorce judgments in their specificity regarding the retirement pension benefits. Different pension plans can require certain information, but all must comply with the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), as well as the amended 1986 Internal Revenue Code (IRC).
As such, all QDROs have to include these details:
- The plan's name
- Plan participant's name and his or her last known mailing address
- The alternate payee's name and mailing address
- Specific amount that must be paid out
- How the amount is determined
- Number of disbursements or the length of time payments shall be paid under the Order
Where is the information required for the QDRO found?
Your family law attorney can get all of the necessary information from the pension plan administrator.
Source: Fidelity, "Frequently Asked Questions," accessed Aug. 25, 2017