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What Is A QDRO? Is It Necessary For My Florida Divorce Case?

A QDRO is a qualified domestic relations order. It is a legal order that is entered as part of a divorce that splits and changes ownership of a retirement plan, such as a 401k, IRA, or a pension plan. The QDRO may give ownership of the retirement plan to another individual, other than the person who currently owns it, such as a spouse, ex-spouse, or child.

QDROs only apply to employee benefit or pension plans that are subject to ERISA laws, which are the laws that govern private sector retirement plans. Other types of orders must be issued to divide military retirement plans, Federal civil service retirement plans, and other state, county, or local retirement plans in most states.

If the parties simply agree to divide the retirement plan between themselves and write up an agreement to that effect, that is not sufficient to qualify as a QDRO. Instead, such an order has to be authorized by a court. A court can issue a QDRO even if the parties don’t agree on the issue.

QDROs must contain specific information in order to qualify as a QDRO, including the name and last known mailing address of the participant and the individual who is receiving the retirement plan, the name of each retirement plan, the Social Security numbers of both parties, the dollar amount or percentage to be paid to the new individual, and the number of payments or the time period to which the order applies. There are also other provisions that a QDRO cannot legally contain.

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