When you get a divorce, a great deal of paperwork is typically generated by both sides as the court schedules rules and hearings before the final decree is filed and signed. If you are like most couples, however, one or both of you may have money set aside in a retirement account that is funded (at least in part) by your employer(s).
Ownership of those retirement benefits can become hotly contested during the pendency of the divorce proceedings. But a divorce decree and judgment for the property settlement phase is insufficient when dealing with retirement accounts.
So, what document will you need instead?
In order for the non-employee spouse to receive a portion of the employee spouse’s retirement benefits from the years they were married, your family law attorney will need to draft and file a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO). If you were divorced without the QDRO being completed, you can always revisit the matter with the courts at a later date.
However, if your divorce is still pending, it saves time and money to ask your attorney to include the QDRO as part of the divorce process.
Why is a QDRO necessary
These orders must contain very specific language and information that is not addressed in a divorce judgment or property settlement. Drafting and filing a QDRO assures that the non-working spouse will receive the retirement benefits to which they are entitled. Without the QDRO in place, they will need to rule the other spouse into court to finalize this last bit of business between the former spouses.