What is a qualified domestic relations order?

Get the definition of a qualified domestic relations order. Discover why you may need one and how to get. Learn why they are common in a divorce.

There are many complex issues that may arise in a divorce in Oregon. One such issue is the division of retirement accounts. Since these accounts have a monetary value, the court includes them in the list of marital assets. The court can divide a retirement account but that requires a special document called a qualified domestic relations order.

When the court requires a QDRO

According to the Oregon Judicial Branch, the courts require a QDRO anytime a couple wishes to divide a retirement account. This document spells out the plan to divide the retirement account in detail. For example, if the court wants the account split 50/50, then the document must say the split is 50/50. The QDRO is a complicated document that offers various division options but that must have specific language and follow the exact rules of the plan owner.

Meeting plan owner requirements

Retirement plan owners are very particular in what they will accept when it comes to a QDRO. There is often a specific language requirement and other steps to follow. The only way to get a portion of a spouse's retirement account offered through an employer is with a QDRO. In addition, the plan owner holds the final approval of the division of the account, so it is imperative that a person ensures the QDRO meets the requirements. Whoever is creating the document should work directly with the plan owner to find out requirements and get details on the process to ensure it is done properly.

QDRO important information

If a person needs to divide more than one retirement account, he or she may need to have a separate QDRO for each account. It is also important to note that when taking money out of a retirement account early there are often fines, but in the case of a divorce, there are no fines. However, the person receiving the money will have to pay taxes on the money. Finally, it is essential to be very specific in wording. Listing percentages is almost always preferable because they adjust to changes in the plan that may occur during the process.

Because a QDRO is a complex legal document that must meet very specific requirements, experts always advise that a person should use a QDRO attorney when one is needed. The attorneys at Yates Family Law, PC, who represent divorcing spouses in Oregon assist their clients in division of property, including retirement accounts. If a QDRO is required, Yates Family Law has the needed experience in working with qualified QDRO attorneys who can ensure the proper steps are taken so that the Order is approved by the retirement plan owner.