Anytime a divorce results in a splitting of a 401k, pension, or other form of retirement account, a QDRO should be done. QDRO (pronounced “quadro”) stands for Qualified Domestic Relations Order.
My experience as a QDRO attorney in Idaho Falls and Pocatello is that many divorce attorneys in Eastern Idaho have trouble handling QDROs. Some refer QDRO work out to other attorneys. There’s no mistake about it–QDROs are difficult, and sometimes the best way to handle them is to not divide any retirement accounts in the first place. However, that’s not always an option.
Part of the difficulty of QDROs is that they require the approval of both the judge and the company running the retirement fund. An experienced QDRO attorney will speak with the retirement account company first, before putting together the QDRO. Then, once the QDRO is put together, the attorney will give it to the retirement account company for approval before submitting it to the judge.
Keep in mind, a QDRO cannot be filed until after the divorce is finalized. The divorce itself must state what will happen to the retirement account. The QDRO must not only be in compliance with the rules of the retirement fund company and state laws, but it must also be in compliance with what is stated in the decree of divorce.
Ideally, both the ex-spouses sign onto the QDRO. In a worse-case scenario, you may have to take your ex-spouse back to court to force them to sign the QDRO. If this is the case, you should also be entitled to attorney fees. However, my experience is that usually both spouses sign the QDRO willingly.
So, your divorce is finalized. Your current attorney may seem a little uncertain about doing the QDRO–or he may outright refuse to do it. Is it worth doing? Chances are, it will pay out to you hundreds of dollars each month. That adds up. A $500 payment per month is $6,000 a year, and chances are that money will come your way for decades. Don’t put this one off–get it taken care of so that when the time comes, you can collect your monthly payments.
I have offices in Idaho Falls and Pocatello, and I assist individuals with QDROs throughout Idaho, including Twin Falls, Boise, and the rest of the state. Give me a call, and I’ll take care of the QDRO for you–even if another attorney handled your divorce.