Divorced spouses often contact us with concerns that their ex-spouse won’t sign QDRO, a qualified domestic relations order. The courts use a QDRO (pronounced “quaw-dro”) to officially divide a former spouse’s interest in a retirement plan or pension plan. If your spouse won’t sign QDRO, then you will not be able to complete the process of dividing the retirement account . However, the spouse refusing to sign the QDRO could find themselves held in contempt of court for refusing to do so. This article reviews options you may have if your ex-spouse is refusing to sign your QDRO.

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Ex-Spouse Won’t Sign QDRO?
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…or continue reading the article below to learn more about options when an ex-spouse won’t sign a QDRO.

A People’s Choice can help you file the necessary documents to take action in the event your former spouse won’t sign a QDRO. Read on to learn more about alternatives to accomplish this process.

Why an Ex-Spouse Won’t Sign QDRO

Your ex-spouse may provide you with several reasons they believe they should not have to sign a QDRO. As with most things revolving around the divorce, they may not want to sign the QDRO simply out of anger. Alternatively, they may disagree with the court’s award of retirement division. Once the court makes a judgment to divide retirement, there are no valid reasons for an ex-spouse to refuse to sign a QDRO. The good news is that most spouses do opt to sign the QDRO once they realize the negative ramifications of refusing. You simply must take action to make signing the QDRO seem like a superior option to refusing by filing a motion or contempt request.

Penalties for Refusing to Sign QDRO

If your spouse won’t sign the QDRO, you will need a court order that directs the court clerk to sign on their behalf. Once you have that order, you no longer need your ex-spouse’s signature on the QDRO. It is also possible that if your spouse continues to resist, the court may order them in contempt of court. Filing a contempt request with the court in order to accomplish this is an option. However, it is usually much easier to file the motion to have the Clerk sign on their behalf.

As mentioned above, if your spouse refuses to sign a QDRO consistent with court-ordered retirement division, you have two options. First, you can commence contempt proceedings under California Family Law code section 290 and 1218. This means you will file a contempt request with the court. According to California Family Law, the court may enforce a QDRO court order by contempt, the appointment of a receiver, execution (enacting the order), or any other method the court requires. Once your former spouse is found guilty of contempt, the court can levy a fine of no more than $1,000 or imprison your ex-spouse for no more than five days. Sometimes, the court will do both.

How to File a Motion to Clerk

Alternatively, instead of filing a contempt motion, you can file a Motion to have the Court Clerk sign the QDRO on their behalf. Filing a motion is often a simpler and less time-consuming process. Either way, the court may also hold your spouse responsible for legal fees. As you can see, these are incredibly unattractive options for your ex-spouse.

As mentioned above, it is often easier to file a motion and request the Court Clerk sign the QDRO instead of your ex-spouse. With this in mind, you will need to prepare several documents to file this motion. First, complete a Request for Order. Then, attach your Declaration. Remember, the court will also require a Proposed Order. If the clerk approves your motion, the Judge will sign the Order and allow the Court Clerk to sign the QDRO at the place designed for your ex-spouse. Once you and the Court Clerk execute the document, the Judge will sign the QDRO, and you can present it to the Plan Administrator for a final division of the retirement account.  A People’s Choice can help make sure you have these documents filled out correctly and that your motion includes all the right paperwork.

Alternatives to Contempt or Motion

There are other options we have seen people choose when dealing with an ex-spouse that refuses to sign a QDRO.  Sometimes a person renegotiates and makes modifications to the Judgment’s QDRO language to make a spouse more willing to sign. Either way, it is up to you what actions you take to enforce the court-ordered division of retirement. If faced with an ex-spouse who won’t sign a QDRO, contact us today for help. We can prepare and file the necessary documents the judge requires to complete the QDRO process, even if your ex-spouse is not cooperating. You can reach us at 805-648-5540.

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