How much information do I need to prepare a QDRO?

Good news! You really don’t need much information to draft a QDRO with the help of QDROCounsel.

If you have little to no information regarding retirement accounts in a divorce, check out the 4 points needed to prepare a QDRO:


  1. Statistical information. You need to know (a) the marital period which is the date of marriage through the marital division date based on your state's law (e.g., Date of Separation in CA), court order or the parties' agreement, (b) both parties’ mailing address, dates of birth and in most cases social security numbers.
  2. Plan name. Create a list of employers where both parties worked during the marriage. If you know the employer, QDROCounsel can find the plan. Our database has over 1 million retirement plans with the ability to search by employer to help determine the retirement plans offered by the employer. Remember if an employer offers a defined benefit plan, in almost all cases all employees must be participants in that plan. Most private and public plans offer their employees defined contributions plans. However, defined contribution plans in most cases are voluntary plans so some employees may not be a participant in an employer’s defined contribution plan. Mid to large private and public employers likely have both a defined benefit plan and a defined contribution plan for their employees.
  3. Active or Retired. Whether a participant is retired and receiving a benefit or an active participant is very important. It determines how the QDRO should be drafted and the marital interest to the parties. It helps determine whether a survivor benefit exists.
  4. Award to the Former Spouse in divorce judgment. Often the award in a divorce judgment on how to divide a retirement benefit is not clear at all. But those judgment awards give us clues as to how the QDRO should be prepared based on the law. For example, if the plan is a defined contribution plan (e.g., 401k), in most cases the award is a percentage of the account balance. If the plan is a defined benefit plan (e.g., pension plan) in most cases, the award is a marital fraction based on time during the marriage worked over the total time worked. QDROCounsel can help you figure it all out based on the type of plan and the facts of your case.

The bottom line is that information is power, which means that it is critically important to obtain the required basic information regarding retirement benefits in a divorce case. The earlier retirement information is identified the easier the process will be as the parties’ work through the divorce process. If additional information is needed by subpoena, QDROCounsel can help with that language.

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