If you or your spouse has a pension, retirement plan, an IRA, 401(k), annuity, or any other type of retirement benefit, then you probably will need a QDRO or DRO to divide the retirement benefits.
A QDRO is short for “Qualified Domestic Relations Order” and a DRO is short for “Domestic Relations Order”. A QDRO and DRO are basically the same thing, the only difference is that a QDRO will be ‘qualified’ by the administrator of the retirement plan.
A QDRO/DRO is a type of court order, so it must be signed by a Judge. It allows a spouse to obtain a portion of the other spouse’s retirement benefits, without any tax implications or any type of early withdrawal fees. You need a QDRO/DRO because a retirement benefit can only be divided through a court order.
Typically, in the divorce, your attorney will arrange for a QDRO/DRO to be drafted by a third-party firm. Once the QDRO/DRO is drafter, your attorney will review it, to make sure it is correct. Depending on the QDRO/DRO, it may then have to be pre-approved by the administrator of the particular retirement plan. If it does have to be pre-approved, then that should be done as soon as possible, as many retirement plans can take a long time to grant the pre-approval. Once the QDRO/DRO has been pre-approved, or if no pre-approval is necessary, then the QDRO/DRO is submitted to the Court for the Judge’s signature. Usually, a QDRO/DRO will not be signed by a Judge until the divorce is completed and the Judgment of Divorce is signed.
Once the Judge signs the QDRO/DRO, it can then be submitted to the administrator of the retirement plan.
If you have questions about your retirement plan or your spouse’s retirement plan, and you are thinking of getting divorce, then call David Badanes and the Badanes Law Office.
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