Retirement Plans and Your Social Security

What Are Qualified Domestic Relations Orders? (QDRO'S)


Necessary to Transfer Ownership

An interest in an ERISA qualified retirement plan is transferred by means of a Domestic Relations Order. The Order must be "Qualified", which is an approval process which takes place after the Domestic Relations Order is "entered" by a Court. Thus the term, Qualified Domestic Relations Order and the acronym "QDRO". This Order itself cannot be entered until your divorce is final.

The Terms

The person whose interest is being transferred is called the "Participant". The person to whom the interest is transferred is called the "Alternate Payee."

Military is Different

Most retirement plans provided by private employers are subject to the ERISA requirement that they honor a properly drafted Domestic Relations Order. This is not necessarily the case with military and government plans.

Requirements for "Qualification"

To be “Qualified”, a QDRO Must Include: 

1.   The names and current addresses of the Participant and of the Alternate Payee.

2.   The correct name of the plan from which the benefit is to be transferred.

3.   The percentage or amount of the benefit to be transferred.

4.   The number of months or periods of payments.

To be “Qualified”, a QDRO Must Not Include: 

1.   A form of benefit not provided for in the plan.

2.   A benefit that exceeds the actuarial value of the Participant's interest in the plan.

3.   A provision for payment of a benefit that's already been assigned to another.

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