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What is a Qualified Domestic Relations Order and How Does It Work?

When you are in the midst of a divorce, retirement plans may be the last thing on your mind. However, retirement plans or pensions may be the largest assets that you and/or your spouse own, and they are often subject to division during a divorce as marital property. Due to the potential impact on your future financial stability, you must ensure that you receive the portion of your spouse’s retirement or pension plans to which you are entitled.

A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) is a court order or decree that is issued by a judge in a divorce proceeding. A QDRO gives direction to a pension or retirement plan administrator as to how to divide the plan so that you are paid your share. Typically, a QDRO is used to award one spouse a certain amount of money or percentage of a retirement account balance for the purposes of property division, alimony, and/or child support.

QDROs only apply to retirement plans that are tax-qualified by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and that are subject to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). A QDRO that has been approved by the retirement plan administrator will protect your right to claim the portion of the plan that you were awarded in your divorce. Even a marital settlement agreement or divorce decree cannot alone protect your right to a portion of your spouse’s retirement plan. Only a QDRO can provide you with complete legal protection.

If you are considering filing for a divorce or are already embroiled in a divorce, the Shaw Law Firm, LLC, can help. We will evaluate your situation and advise you about the available options in your case, including those related to any pensions and retirement plans that may be at issue.

Contact us or call today to learn how Shaw Law can work with you to achieve the best outcome possible for you and your children.

Scott Shaw is founder and principle of Shaw Law Firm LLC, founded in 1995 and dedicated solely to divorce, family law and child custody matters that must be addressed and decided in the state of Georgia. Shaw Law Firm serves the greater Metro Atlanta area, particularly the counties of Fulton, Gwinnett, Cobb, Cherokee, Forsyth, Paulding, Henry, Fayette, Coweta, Newton, Walton, Bartow and Douglas. Schedule a consultation today at 770-594-8309.