QDRO & Retirement Accounts

What happens to your retirement plan when you divorce?

As a rule, one generally cannot assign a qualified retirement plan when dividing up assets in a divorce case. However, there is an exception: the qualified domestic relations order (QDRO).

A QDRO is a court's judgment, decree or order that assigns ownership of a portion of a retirement plan to a spouse, former spouse or child/dependent of the plan holder. The QDRO may be associated with alimony, child support and other marital property rights.

Many clients are concerned about the possibility of dividing a 401k or pension plan through a QDRO. Our firm is well-equipped to answer your questions and guide you through this complex legal process.

Under normal circumstances, retirement plans stay intact and other assets may be used to balance the fact that one party or the other is taking full possession of the intact retirement account. When leaving the retirement plan intact is not an option (for instance, when it's the only asset of the couple), the QDRO is issued to split the retirement account and give another party ownership of a certain portion of the plan/account. To assign benefit rights, certain complex and technical procedures must be followed (i.e., there must be an order of the court approving of the property settlement terms). There are several forms of QDROs, such as a defined contribution plan and a defined benefit plan, to name two.

Call Hecht Family Law at 678-926-9234 if you have any questions regarding a QDRO or dividing retirement assets. We can answer your QDRO questions and help you approach this aspect of your separation or divorce most effectively.