What Is A Qualified Domestic Relations Order?

A qualified domestic relations order (QDROs) is a special court order that grants a person a right to a portion of the retirement benefits his or her former spouse has earned through participation in an employer-sponsored retirement plan. These are typically prepared during divorce or just after proceedings. A retirement plan can be the largest asset in a marriage however, it can slip through the cracks because there is so much going on and in many cases retirement is decades away.  

The person who earned the benefit is called the “participant” and the person who is designated to receive a share of that benefit is called the “alternate payee.”  QDROs can award benefits to the alternate payee while the participant is alive, as well as survivor benefits if the participant dies.

How can you protect yourself and your assets?  It’s important to read your QRDO thoroughly and understand the terms.  Working with an attorney to understand your rights to a spouse’s retirement account is important, even though retirement may seem far away.