There are so many details to manage during a divorce that is easy to let a few things slip. You have to advocate for yourself, adjust to a new household or custody arrangements, update your estate plan and get the support you need to move on emotionally.
When the courts finally issued a final divorce order, you probably breathed a sigh of relief and were thrilled to put the tensions of divorce behind you. Rebuilding after a divorce emotionally and financially can take some time. Unfortunately, not everything ends when you walk out of the courtroom.
There are certain things you will have to do, like submit and file a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) to complete the process of dividing your property. What happens if you fail to take necessary action to secure your share of retirement assets after your divorce?
There are risks associated with delayed filing
When the courts initially outline their expectations for property division, including retirement accounts or pensions, they do so based on the value of those assets at the time of the divorce. Market downturns or even withdrawals by your ex could diminish the value of retirement accounts and therefore the amount that you should receive once the plan administrator handling the benefits splits your portion off into a separate account.
Waiting to file paperwork might mean that you don’t receive benefits when your former spouse starts receiving their pension or retirement. That could complicate the paperwork you will eventually need to submit, and you will likely have to adjust them to reflect the delay and any changes to the account value. Once you remember your need for a QDRO, you will probably need to re-evaluate the account or benefits in question before moving forward.
Handling a delayed QDRO alone could be a mistake
Drafting the right language for a QDRO and making sure that it receives the necessary approval and administration for you to get your share of those retirement benefits can be a complicated and time-consuming process. Small mistakes might undermine your rights and the amount that you receive.
Getting professional help with this process once you realize your oversight can improve your chances of a positive outcome.