What is a QDRO?
A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) is a court order that is used to divide a retirement plan or pension among a divorcing couple. This is in recognition of their joint ownership of the asset and ensures that each partner comes away from the divorce with his or her fair share of the money that the couple put away for retirement. In Florida, this might not be an exactly equal division because in Florida, property is divided in divorces according to the doctrine of equitable distribution. With equitable distribution, the court considers a variety of factors such as the length of the couple’s marriage and each partner’s contributions to it when determining an appropriate division settlement.
When is a QDRO Necessary?
A QDRO is not a mandatory part of the divorce process. Depending on a couple’s circumstances, one might not be necessary. If you are considering a collaborative divorce, you have a little bit more control over whether the court imposes a QDRO on your retirement or pension plan. However, you can opt for this order if you want to use it to ensure that both you and your spouse’s interest in the account is protected.
Factors that do determine the necessity of using a QDRO to divide a retirement plan include whether the plan is provided by the holder’s employer or not and whether the court decides to divide the employer-provided retirement account. In some cases, the court opts not to divide retirement accounts because both partners have their own.
Using a QDRO to Divide your Assets
A QDRO can be used to divide any retirement or pension plans subject to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).
Once a QDRO is in place, the court can name an individual other than the holder of the pension or retirement benefits account as an “alternate payee” on the account. How the alternate payee receives the money he or she is entitled to receive depends on the way the QDRO is worded. For example, the alternate payee’s portion of the funds in the account may be rolled over into a new account. In cases where the money is not accessible until the account holder retires, this rule remains in place. If you or your spouse have a retirement account or pension, talk about all the possibilities regarding its division during your divorce with your attorney to determine a few realistic possible outcomes.
Work with an Experienced Winter Park Divorce Lawyer
If you are considering filing for divorce, it is important that you work with an experienced divorce lawyer. Aubrey Harry Ducker, Jr. of The Law Offices of Aubrey Harry Ducker, Jr. P.L.C. can help you by providing you with the legal insight and strong representation you need during this time. A divorce has a lot of moving parts and even in the most seemingly simple divorces, issues can arise that can quickly become time-consuming, frustrating, and expensive without an experienced divorce lawyer’s guidance. Contact our firm today to schedule your initial legal consultation with Mr. Ducker.