Your divorce was undoubtedly a hectic and stressful affair, with settlements to negotiate, court hearings to attend, documents to file and possibly even litigation in court. Even if you were blessed with a divorce that was relatively free of contention, you still had a lot on your plate at the time. Thus, when your attorney told you that they don’t handle QDROs, you probably didn’t think much of it. After all, retirement is years or decades away!
Now that you have had your final divorce decree in hand for a while, it may be time to revisit the idea of hiring a new attorney to complete the QDRO process. After all, the longer you wait for one, the more stress and paperwork the process will involve. Fortunately, it’s not too late to start.
QDROs at a glance
Under New York law, the part of your (and your ex-spouse’s) retirement accounts that accrued while you were married constitutes marital property. This means that the court can divide it just like they divided all of your other marital property during your divorce.
The problem is that retirement accounts do not pay out until you retire, meaning that it’s impractical for a court to divide the amounts in the retirement accounts at the moment of divorce. That’s why a QDRO is so important.
A QDRO is a legal document that, once filed with the court, entitles you to part of the portion of your ex-spouse’s retirement account that accrued during your marriage. It allows you to have a legal right to some of the money that you helped them to set aside for retirement.
It’s not too late to file for one
Even though it’s more ideal to take care of the QDRO during the divorce process, that does not mean that you cannot do it later. A New York Appellate Court case reinforced the precedent that there is no time limit for filing QDROs after a final divorce decree.
The sooner you file a QDRO, the better. Take care of it now so that you can have peace of mind while you navigate this new chapter of your life.