Do I need a QDRO if the entire retirement benefit is awarded to the participant or the nonmember spouse?

The only reason to get a QDRO is if any share of retirement benefits (including any survivor benefits) are being assigned to a nonmember ex-spouse (alternate payee). So if the alternate payee is awarded 100% of the participant’s retirement account, you still need a QDRO and the award should be 100% of the retirement account.

If the participant is awarded 100% of the retirement account, no QDRO is needed. However, note that the judgment should have clear language that the participant is awarded 100% of the retirement benefit and that the former spouse waives any interest in it. QDROCounsel has judgment language to help you when the participant is awarded 100% of the retirement account.

Beware though that if the participant retired while married and then later divorced, there may be irrevocable survivor benefits awarded to that spouse (now an ex-spouse) which cannot be waived (undone) under the law. Carmona v. Carmona (9 Cir 2010) 603 F.3d 1041

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