Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDROs) in St. Louis
When a married couple dissolves their marriage, the final divorce decree might not be the only court order that impacts both spouses’ lives in the future. In some cases, a qualified domestic relations order—or QDRO—might also be necessary.
A QDRO is a formal court order that is issued after a divorce is finalized and which divides retirement plans so that both spouses share in the benefits. These orders can operate in different ways, so it is vital to seek the guidance of a dedicated family law attorney when considering your options. Talk to legal counsel about qualified domestic relations orders (QDROs) in St. Louis and how they can help protect your future.
What is a QDRO?
For the most part, federal law prohibits courts in St. Louis from assigning or transferring retirement plans that have generated interest to another party, however, an exception applies in certain divorce cases. When couples get divorced in St. Louis courts, a judge may agree to assign some of the interest in these accounts to the other spouse.
QDROs are ultimately entered by the courts, but they must be drafted by the parties to the divorce. An attorney can assist with developing an appropriate QDRO based on the terms of the divorce decree. Once the proposed QDRO has been drafted, it is up to both the court and the plan administrator to approve the order. Approval is never guaranteed, as there are strict technical requirements for these orders.
The specifics of the QDRO will vary from one divorce to the next. In general, retirement plans that began during the course of a marriage are more likely to be shared than plans that began prior to marriage.
Technical Requirements for QDRO
There are both state and federal requirements that every QDRO must meet in order for the agreement to be valid. First and foremost, the QDRO should identify the plan administrator, the participant, and the alternate payee. These orders should also identify the type of plan, such as a 401K or pension.
The QDRO may also cover what occurs if one spouse is deceased prior to either spouse collecting their respective benefits. In some cases, the benefits could go to their heirs; in others, they could remain with their former spouse.
Who Can Draft a QDRO?
It is important to find the right attorney to draft a QDRO. Many divorced couples rely on the legal counsel they used during their divorce. While many divorce attorneys have the knowledge and experience to handle a QDRO, it could benefit the parties to seek out a legal advisor with experience in drafting these documents. An attorney who has focused on QDROs could increase your chances of securing approval from the court and plan administrator, and avoiding technical mistakes that could otherwise render the order invalid.
Reach out to a St. Louis Attorney about Your QDRO
QDROs are a complex area of law that many people are unfamiliar with. If you find yourself in the position where you are entitled to part of your former spouse’s retirement benefits, a QDRO might be the solution you’re looking for. Contact a seasoned family law advocate right away to discuss qualified domestic relations orders (QDROs) in St. Louis.