Coates & Frey, Attorneys at Law, LLLC
Phone: (808) 524-4854

How do you divide a retirement plan in a divorce?

When couples plan to grow old together, that usually means putting money back in retirement accounts. If you end up getting a divorce, however, one of those retirement accounts may have to be split -- especially if one spouse stockpiled significantly more than the other (which isn't uncommon).

Well, you can't simply rely on your divorce decree to actually split the account. Instead, you need to ask the court for a specific judgment that directly addresses the account in question and directs the plan's administrator on how to divide it. This is called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, or QDRO.

Why is a QDRO required?

Essentially, the retirement plan's administrator has to follow certain laws in order to allow anyone other than the named owner of the account access to the funds. The QDRO is specifically designed to meet the requirements of the individual plan. In fact, many retirement plans have forms that they specifically require people to use in order to make sure that their requirements are meant.

What's needed on a QDRO?

The basics that have to be included with a QDRO are:

  • The name of the plan
  • The names of both the plan's participant and the alternate payee (his or her divorcing spouse)
  • Their addresses
  • The method of calculating the payment that is to go to the alternate payee
  • The time period covered by the order

That last requirement helps keep money that is rightfully the participants in the account while allowing the administrator to divide what is considered marital property.

Dividing the marital assets a couple has amassed over the years can be complicated. Make sure that you trust your case to someone with the proper experience.

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