Frequently Asked Questions
Is a QDRO necessary for all types of retirement plans?
You will need a QDRO for any private employer’s retirement plan (such as defined benefit pension, 401(k), stock bonus, profit-sharing, thrift & savings, and employee stock ownership plans) in which you and/or your spouse have money. Without a QDRO, such plans are prohibited by federal law from distributing money to anyone other than the participant.
Although government retirement plans (for example, military pensions, federal, state, county, or city retirement plans) are not subject to QDRO rules, these plans typically require a court order, similar to a QDRO, for dividing retirement benefits. McHenry QDRO Consulting has experience in drafting these court orders.
When should a QDRO be drafted?
Obtaining the appropriate information and drafting the QDRO should be done early in the divorce process. Since it could take some time to obtain the required information, you should get started as soon as possible. If you are already divorced, you should begin and complete the QDRO process immediately.
Without a QDRO, could a spouse lose his or her rights to the pension benefits?
Unfortunately, yes. For example, if the plan participant dies after the divorce, but before the QDRO is finished and approved by the plan administrator, it is possible that the former spouse would receive no money from the plan.
Who should draft the QDRO?
To protect your interests, your QDRO should be drafted by a QDRO and retirement plan professional. You should not assume that your divorce attorney has the specialized knowledge needed to accurately prepare this complicated document. Because all plans are different, the QDRO preparer must fully understand the plan’s intricate and complex details, and how they apply to your specific situation.
McHenry QDRO Consulting has extensive knowledge of what must be included in QDROs to comply with court rules and procedures; how employers administer retirement plans; and what steps are necessary to obtain pre-approval.
Why should a QDRO be pre-approved by the plan administrator before it is filed with the Court?
Even if already signed by a judge, an order is not designated as a QDRO until the plan administrator approves it. That’s because the plan may require that the QDRO include specific language or provisions, in addition to the general legal requirements. Obtaining pre-approval, whenever possible, can avoid delay and the need for amended court orders.
McHenry QDRO Consulting, with retirement plan administration experience and QDRO expertise, can discuss the required QDRO language with the plan administrator to accurately incorporate your agreement, meet plan requirements, and obtain pre-approval of your QDRO.
How long does the QDRO process take?
In most cases, obtaining a valid QDRO takes from two to four months. The length of the process varies, depending on a number of factors outside the preparer’s control (for example, how long it takes for the court to issue the QDRO, or the time involved in getting the QDRO formally approved by the plan administrator.) McHenry QDRO Consulting will prepare your order quickly and efficiently, and will do everything possible to speed up the process for you (such as following up with the plan administrator during drafting and pre-approval).
What information is required to begin drafting the QDRO?
You will need to provide McHenry QDRO Consulting with a copy of the following:
- Page(s) of Marital Settlement Agreement or final divorce order provisions describing division of retirement benefits
- Page from the court stating that the divorce is final
Also, it will be helpful if you can provide a copy of the:
- Most recent benefit statement(s)
The above information should be included with your application to prepare the QDRO.
Click here to access the application form.
How much does it cost to provide full QDRO services?
To provide full QDRO services, our fee is $500.00. Click here for complete information on our fees, services included, and payment methods.