During a divorce, most couples usually split community property assets 50/50. However, a couple may choose not to divide their current retirement plans, and each waive any community property interest they may have. In the first place, it is not necessary to divide all retirements plans in a divorce. However, if the court has ordered the division of a retirement account, or the parties have agreed to divide one or more retirement accounts, it will be necessary to file a QDRO after divorce. We often receive calls from client about how to file a QDRO after divorce. Here is what you need to know about the QDRO process after divorce.
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Specificallly, to formally divide a retirement account, the parties will need to prepare a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). Once signed by the judge, the QDRO allows the retirement account administrator to get access to the retirement plan benefits and divide them into two accounts. In other words, the division will follow the court order and divorce judgment. Contact A People’s Choice to speak with our legal document assistant about your QDRO matter. We can help you prepare the forms you need to file a QDRO after divorce to get your share of a former spouse’s retirement benefits. Provided that you would like to prepare a QDRO without having to hire an expensive attorney, this article will explain how to file a QDRO after divorce.
What is a QDRO?
A QDRO is a formal court order that gives instructions to a pension plan administrator to divide a defined benefit plan after divorce and provide a part of it to an ex-spouse. For example, a QDRO may also be used to separate IRAs, 401(k)s, and other retirement plans. Moreover, the division can be a percentage or a specific dollar amount. When considering how to file a QDRO after divorce, you will need to know how to divide the retirement. Provided that the divorce judgment outlines the exact division of the retirement plans, a spouse must file a QDRO after divorce once the court enters a judgment. Keep mind, the QDRO process is an extra step after the court enters the divorce judgment. In other words, the court does not automatically issue a QDRO after divorce upon the entry of judgment. Furthermore, unless the parties prepare a formal QDRO, the retirement account will not be divided.
A QDRO is a separate order granted by the court in addition to the divorce judgment. The QDRO order will contain specific directions to a pension plan administrator on how to divide the plan between the spouses. When you file a QDRO after divorce, the QDRO will be specific to one retirement account. In other words, if you have more than one retirement plan to divide, you will need to prepare a separate QDRO for each plan. A couple should prepare and file their QDRO as soon as the court grants a divorce judgment. For instance, an extended delay in filing the required QDRO may hinder a party receiving their court-ordered share at a later date. You will need a QDRO if you are trying to divide the following types of plans:
- 401(k), 403(b), and 457 plan
- Tax-sheltered annuities
- Corporate defined benefit or pension plans
- Employee stock ownership plan
- Profit-sharing plan
- Thrift plan
Keep in mind, each company may have particular guidelines regarding how to divide the above-referenced plans. In other words, no two QDROs are alike.
Notifying the Retirement Plan
In California, a spouse has an assumed interest in any retirement plan that was paid into with community property funds during the marriage. Conversely, a spouse has an assumed interest in any accumulated retirement benefits accrued through employment. Once a couple files divorce, they should notify the plan administrator of all retirement accounts of their plans to divorce. Notification can be done informally in writing or through a more formal process called “Joinder.” A Joinder formally links the Plan to the divorce proceedings and puts a “lock” on the plan until the plan has been divided by the court.
How to File a QDRO After Divorce in California
The marital settlement agreement or final divorce judgment should include language about what amount each spouse is to receive from the retirement plan. If the document is silent, it may be necessary to have the court clarify the Judgment before you can prepare the QDRO. In most instances, the QDRO preparer will include a standard formula the plan adminstrator can use to to compute the amount payable. It is important to have the plan administrator pre-approve the QDRO to make sure it complies with the plan’s rquirements before filing it with the court. Once the QDRO is pre-approved by the plan administrator, you and your spouse must sign the QDRO. Submit the QDRO with the court to have the judge sign the order. Once it is filed with the court and approved by the judge, send a copy of the document to the plan administrator. The plan administrator will provide payment instructions to both parties.
Despite common belief, you do not need to hire an attorney to file a QDRO after divorce in California. Contact A People’s Choice and our legal document preparer will walk you through the steps you need to complete to file a QDRO after divorce and successfully divided your retirement plan consistent with your divorce judgment. Call us today at 800-747-2780.
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I have been separated for a little over a year from my spouse of 15 years. I am ready to start the divorce proceedings. I don’t believe it will be contested, so I am going to do a filing online for a non-contested divorce with the courts. Do I have to file a QDRO for spousal support now or can I wait and get an attorney and file once the divorce it final?
A QDRO deals with retirement division, not spousal support.
I am recently divorced …my ex husband 401k company gave me a copy of a dro that doesn’t has a signature for him to sign the paper only sent to the court house ..do I need a motion to order for that or can that just be filed without further action? And do i bring the paperwork to court myself after your company does it?
QDROs typically require both parties’ signatures. If the other party won’t sign then, yes, you may need to file a motion. Give us a call at 800-747-2780 for help!
I am going through an uncontested divorce. I am still employed and will retire in a few more years. We agreed to split retirement and SSI . Should I do the QDro now or after the divorce? Or after I retire?
Hi Mike – Normally the QDRO should be processed immediately after the Judgment is entered.Please let us know if you need help with this paperwork.
I have a QDRO prepared by mutual consent firm. My ex-wife is not signing the papers for months. How to file with court for motion and order ?
Kenji – We can help you file the motion to allow the court to proceed on this would our spouse’s signature. Give us a call at 800-747-2780 for help.
I had a QDRO drawn up, sent it to the courts. They say they need a motion and an order to enter QDRO. I did complete the motion and it has been accepted, however I do not know what they need as far as the order is concerned. Any suggestions?
We can probably help you prepare the order if we see the motion paperwork. Give our office a call at 800-747-2780.
how much is the typically cost to file a QDRO
Th. QDRO document itself cost $499. There is typically a $20 filing fee.
Just barely got divorce and my ex wife filling qrdo do i need to sign that also can my wife get my half 401k when i retire…please help
Your judgment controls who gets what. A QDRO should be consistent with the terms of the judgment, is needed for each retirement plan to be divided, and does need to be signed by both parties.
What can I do if I am divorced, a QDRO was legally drawn up, signed by both my ex-husband and myself, he has the original and won’t file it with the court? It’s been 2 years of stalling, excuses, etc.
We can help you file a motion to address this with the court.
I live in Minnesota and we got divorced 2004. I am the former spouse and was awarded 17% of my ex’s military pension. There is no Quadro language the divorce. I need to get Quadro order to collect my share. How do I go about doing that?
A QDRO is a separate process to finalize the award outlined in the dissolution judgment. Give us a call and we can help with the paperwork. 800-747-2780.
The court can only enforce what the Judgment provides for. You may have to modify your Judgement.