Tag Archive for: retirement benefits

Receipt of the divorce decree does not necessarily mean nothing else needs to be done. In a case with a marital residence, the parties may still need to sell the house or one party may have a certain window for refinancing the property and buying the other party out. If you are a party retaining a marital residence by agreement or court order, you can change the locks once the property is formerly awarded to you. The party vacating the residence should be sure to change their address with the post office and update other accounts accordingly. In a case where retirement benefits are being split, the parties may need a qualified domestic relations order or QDRO for short.

A QDRO is a document used to rollover a portion of one party’s retirement plan/benefit to the other party. The benefit of a QDRO is that it allows a tax-free transfer of the funds from one party to their new or soon-to-be ex-spouse. The receiving spouse would then be taxed as they withdraw the money as the tax laws provide. The QDRO ultimately needs to be signed by both parties and the court prior to being sent to the plan administrator for implementation.

You will benefit from having an attorney review the terms of the QDRO before signing off on it and submitting it to the plan. If you have been paying support to your spouse, you should notify Domestic Relations if the support is ending or if it is converting to alimony. If switching to alimony, you should confirm the amount if there is any change from an existing charging order. You should also notify Domestic Relations of the term of the alimony.

A qualified domestic relations order or QDRO for short, is a document that is needed to split certain retirement benefits in the context of a divorce. Specifically, all benefits governed under ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974) require a QDRO for division. ERISA plans may include pensions, 401Ks, profit-sharing plans, and stock ownership plans. A few examples of plans not governed by ERISA are local state or municipal plans, IRAs, or military benefits. There are certain base requirements for all QDROs. One, you must identify the name and address of both the participant spouse and the alternate payee, or party now standing to receive a portion of the benefits.

Two, you must specify exactly how much the alternate payee is to receive. This can be done a few different ways including as a fixed dollar amount or a percentage of the marital portion of the plan. The marital portion will be determined by looking at the years married in comparison to the total number of years as an employee earning benefits. Third, you need to explain when or how the benefits will be distributed. For many retirement benefits, the alternate payee cannot begin to collect until the participant spouse retires. Finally, the plan must be clearly identified. Certain plans may have specific language they want used or a particular template to file. It is wise to enlist the services of a company that routinely drafts QDROs to ensure the language is correct and all requirements are met.

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