Divorce and Retirement Funds

What is a QDRO and do you need one if you’re going through a separation?

In North Carolina you must be physically separated from your spouse for 1 year.  Within that year of separation it is common for the parties to file for equitable distribution, among other things.  One or both of the party’s retirement funds is generally a piece of property that will need to be split between the 2. Generally speaking, a spouse is entitled to the other spouse’s retirement funds that were accrued while they were married.  A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) is the court order that is sent to the retirement plan company that lays out the details of splitting the funds.  The first step will be to call the company and request the balance of the account on the date of separation.  This should be a fairly simple document to get.  The percentage of the funds that will be going to the spouse will be different for every case.   The 2 parties will have to negotiate and come to an agreement on how much the spouse will receive. A QDRO must contain the following information:


  • The name and address of both parties
  • The name of the retirement plan
  • The amount or percentage agreed upon
  • The amount of payments or time period
  • How the payments will be made

It can also be beneficial for the Order to state how the percentage or dollar amount was determined.  Some companies will have their own form that can be completed and filed, or an attorney can draft the Order. Once the Order is agreed upon by both parties and signed, it will need to be submitted to a Judge for their signature.  Upon the Judge’s signature the Order will then be distributed to all parties and the retirement plan company.  Some retirement plan companies may then contact the payee with additional information on how to receive the payments once the payor retires.


If you are going through a separation and need a QDRO drafted or need to defend against having your retirement account funds taken away from you call us today!


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