Going through a divorce opens up many questions about how you and your spouse will adjust financially to your newly single status. Marriage is more than just a union of two lives—it is also a joining of finances, and as such, the separation can get messy. A qualified domestic relations order, or QDRO for short, is one tool that you can use to maintain financial stability in the wake of a divorce.
What is a QDRO? A QDRO divides one spouse's pension or retirement plan in order to fund expenses such as alimony or child support. It confirms an alternate payee's entitlement to a portion of the benefits, and it may be a necessary part of property division in your divorce.
1. Draft your QDRO
A QDRO works by explicitly outlining the portion of a pension or benefit account that each spouse receives in a divorce agreement. The first step of the QDRO process, then, is to gather information about the applicable accounts and indicate what parts you and your spouse are dividing. The administrator of the plan will need to ensure that the draft meets the requirements of the plan. You will likely go through several drafts at this stage of the process before you settle on one that receives the approval of all parties involved.
2. Obtain signatures
When you are drafting the QDRO, it is important to ensure that it legally complies with New York state laws, as well as the retirement plan rules. Once you have drafted a legally acceptable QDRO, you and your spouse must both sign it and agree to its terms.
3. Seek judge approval
After agreeing on a draft and signing it, you will take it to the judge in your district and submit it for approval by the court. The judge's approval of the QDRO finalizes it.