Qualified Domestic Relations Order

A Qualified Domestic Relations Order, often abbreviated “QDRO,” is entered by a divorce court following a dissolution of marriage (divorce) effectively creating the existence of an alternate payee’s right to receive a portion of the benefits payable under a retirement asset (pension plan, 401k, 403b) to a former spouse of the participant in the retirement plan.

In general, the portion of the asset that will be divided in the QDRO is the “marital portion.”  The marital portion is that portion that is earned from the date of the marriage to the date of the divorce.

The alternate payee is the person receiving the benefits under the QDRO.  The participant is the person who was the employee that was the retirement plan participant, and the person giving up the benefits under the QDRO.

The QDRO is prepared to carry out the terms of the Divorce judgment, based on either the settlement agreement that the parties had voluntarily entered into or the decision of the judge for those cases that proceeded to trial.

Typically, the attorney for the alternate payee will prepare the QDRO, although this is something that can be negotiated.  Once prepared, opposing counsel will review the document to make sure that it accurately reflects the terms of the judgment.  If the Plan Administrator agrees, it is always advisable to have the Plan Administrator review the QDRO draft prior to routing it for signature.

After both attorneys approve the QDRO, the Court (Judge) signs it, and a certified copy is sent to the Plan Administrator for administration.  When the court certified copy is approved by the Plan Administrator, the plan will carry out the terms of the QDRO; and, officially notifies both the Participant and the Alternate Payee, in addition to both Attorneys.

After the asset is divided into two separate accounts, the Alternate Payee is in control of the portion allocated to them under the terms of the QDRO. Interested in discussing your case? Contact the attorneys at Zolman Law Firm in St. Louis today! Complimentary 30 minute consultations are available.