Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDRO's)
A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) or a Domestic Relations Order (DRO) is a court order directing the administrator of a retirement plan to distribute a portion of one party's retirement to the other. The implementation of a term of a judgment of divorce or a legal separation, can be tedious as the intent of the distribution needs to conform with the rules of the particular retirement plan. There are issues that pertain to retirement distribution which our attorneys regularly deal with, most importantly at the stage of an agreement or an initial court order, but also through the implementation of an agreement or order.
There are basically two types of retirement assets: A defined benefit plan, which is typically referred to as a pension, involves what is usually a monthly payment to a retiree; the amount of which is based upon a percentage usually of a certain number of years of service. A defined contribution plan, on the other hand, is similar to a 401(k) or a 403(b) Plan where monies are invested on a pre-tax basis, invested and, hopefully, grow. The division of a defined benefit plan involves considerations beyond the basic amount upon retirement including pre and post retirement death benefits and/or survivor benefits which vary by plan and need to be addressed in some fashion in the context of a divorce or separation. When dealing with defined contribution plans, particular attention needs to be paid to how the share of the non-titled spouse is to be calculated and whether it is to be impacted based upon the appreciation or depreciation of that particular portion of the account up until such time as the date of distribution.
HoganWillig has a team of attorneys highly skilled in drafting Qualified Domestic Relations Orders. We understand the intricate details that these documents require and have prepared numerous QDROs for clients over the past 20+ years. If you have a case nearing settlement, call one of our QDRO attorneys today for assistance in the division of retirement plans of any kind.
If a consultation would be helpful prior to any substantive settlement discussions, please call or email us and we will be pleased to assist.