California Divorce Council

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Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO)

Congress enacted laws in 1984, making it easier for former spouses to receive a portion of the pension benefits awarded to them. A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) is a court order, separate from your divorce decree, instructing the Plan Administrator to distribute your share of the retirement benefits to you. If you have been awarded a portion of your former spouse’s pension or retirement benefits, it is important that a QDRO be prepared, and as soon as it is possible, here’s why:

  • • Even if you are awarded one-half of your former spouse’s pension, and he/she dies without a QDRO on file, you will be entitled to nothing.
  • • Your Marital Settlement Agreement awards you your community half of the pension or 401(k) Plan and the Participant cashes it out, the employer is obligated to give it to him/her if there is no QDRO.
  • • If a QDRO was not received by the Plan Administrator before the Participant (your former spouse) actually retires, you lose options and may lose benefits!

Our fee for preparing your QDRO is $500.00 whether it is for a “defined benefit” or “defined contribution” type plan. If “Joinder” paperwork is required, there will be an additional fee of $50.00 for this paperwork. Please contact us for additional information. To get started, complete the worksheet below and return by mail or fax, or email to us.

- MS Word Version (37 kb):
QDRO Worksheet.doc
- PDF Version (94 kb):
QDRO Worksheet.pdf