401khelpcenter.com Logo

COLLECTED WISDOM™ on Qualified Domestic Relations Orders -- QDROs

You are the plan administrator for your company's retirement plan. A plan participant comes to you for information and advice about the possible effects that an impending divorce might have on his benefits. What does the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) require of you? Here is some information that will help.

This archive contains not only the most current material on the topic, but also older items that are still relevant, provide background, perspective or are germane to the topic.

If you find a broken link or an items that you feel is outdate, irrelevant or no longer appropriate, please let us know.

To subscribe to our free weekly newsletter, enter your email address below then click the "Join" button.

Email Address:


Bankruptcy Case Highlights Importance of Promptly Transferring Retirement Assets in Divorce

Abstract: When a couple divorce, it is not uncommon for one partner to have accumulated significantly larger retirement accounts than the other. In such cases the parties generally divide IRA accounts pursuant to Internal Revenue Code 408(d)(6) and/or enter into a qualified domestic relations order to divide a 401k or other qualified retirement plan. The importance of moving promptly to divide and transfer title to retirement accounts in divorce was highlighted in a Bankruptcy Court case from 2018.

Source: Eforerisa.wordpress.com, March 2019

QDROs in 10 Easy Steps

Abstract: This podcast discusses ten basic steps for how to manage qualified domestic relations orders (QDROs). A QDRO is a judgment, decree, or order for a retirement plan to pay child support, alimony or marital property rights to a spouse, former spouse, child or other dependent of a participant.

Source: Erisapracticecenter.com, August 2018

How to Avoid Mistakes Dividing Up 401k Assets in Divorce

Abstract: Different types of retirement accounts are subject to different rules. Dividing workplace plans like 401ks and traditional pensions requires a court order that is separate from the divorce agreement. It's important to make sure the attorney drafting that separate document is an expert in this.

Source: Cnbc.com, March 2018

Mitigate Qualified Domestic Relations Order Risk With Best Practices

Abstract: While QDRO administration can be problematic and time intensive, ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code clearly outline the obligations of a plan administrator regarding QDROs for qualified retirement plans. These obligations must be met by all plan sponsors.

Source: Findleydavies.com, August 2017

Handling QDROs for Your Retirement Plan

Abstract: When couples divorce, one spouse's retirement benefits may be divided as part of a property settlement. Although federal law generally does not allow plan participants to assign or alienate their retirement plan interests, there is a limited exception. Retirement benefits may be assigned to a spouse, former spouse, child, or other dependent to satisfy family support or marital property obligations through a domestic relations order if the plan administrator determines it is a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO).

Source: Pentegra.com, June 2017

Retirement Benefits and Divorce, Top Tax Issues

Abstract: If a couple has a joint investment in a retirement plan the plan account can be divided to give each spouse their fair share. To divide the plan account without either spouse incurring a massive penalty for early withdrawal from the account, the couple will need to have a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) prepared.

Source: Bsllp.com, May 2017

Divorce & Retirement

Abstract: Because pension and retirement benefits are not automatically split in a divorce, this short guide emphasizes the importance of these benefits and offers valuable information on marital property, negotiating an agreement, and getting a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO).

Source: Wiserwomen.org, April 2017

The Divorce Penalty: This 401k Fee Can Add Insult to Injury

Abstract: As more wealth accumulates in defined-contribution plans and divorcing baby boomers move to split it up, more retirement savers are getting to know a little abbreviation that packs a big punch in frustration and exasperation: QDRO.

Source: Bloomberg.com, January 2017

Dividing Qualified Retirement Plan in Divorce Via a Qualified Domestic Relations Order

Abstract: Fortunately for divorcing couples, there is a mechanism called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order which can be used with qualified retirement plans to divide the assets between divorcing spouses without the funds losing their favorable tax treatment and without application of any early-withdrawal penalties.

Source: Ctlawtribune.com, January 2017

What Is a Qualified Domestic Relations Order and Why Should I Care?

Abstract: A retirement plan can be the largest asset in a marriage. Nonetheless, retirement plans are often forgotten or overlooked during divorce. A qualified domestic relations order is a special court order that grants a person a right to a portion of the retirement benefits his or her former spouse has earned through participation in an employer-sponsored retirement plan.

Source: Pensionrights.org, November 2016

Beware the Retroactive QDRO

Abstract: Employers know that they must honor qualified domestic relations orders (QDROs) that assign a portion of a retirement benefit to a participant’s former spouse, known as an alternate payee, when the participant and alternate payee divorce. Those orders by law are not allowed to provide greater benefits than were otherwise provided under the plan. A recent federal district court case ignored that provision when it recognized a retroactive QDRO.

Source: Benefitsnotes.com, April 2016

Appellate Court Weighs In on Posthumous QDRO

Abstract: Appeals court rules on the validity of certain posthumous qualified domestic relations orders, and whether divorce settlement agreements qualify as or supersede QDROs.

Source: Planadviser.com, July 2015

QDRO Distributions and the Age of 50

Abstract: A defined contribution plan document generally may call for either waiting until the participant is age 50 or permit distribution of the designated amounts as soon as the order is otherwise deemed to a QDRO. If the document is silent on the issue, the alternate payee(s) must wait until the participant attains age 50 to receive a QDRO distribution.

Source: Mhco.com, December 2014

How to Avoid Errors in QDROs

Abstract: When it comes to qualified domestic relations orders (QDROs), plan sponsors and recordkeepers need to head off potential issues before they become larger problems.

Source: Plansponsor.com, June 2014

Drafting Qualified Domestic Relations Orders

Abstract: What is the best way to divide a participant's pension benefits in a QDRO? How much can be given to an alternate payee through a QDRO? What are survivor benefits, and why should a QDRO take them into account? These are just a few of the questions discussed in this FAQ.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, July 2013.

Qualified Domestic Relations Orders Toolkit

Abstract: Resources to assist a retirement plan administrator in reviewing and approving domestic relations orders (DROs) relating to the division of retirement plan benefits to determine if the DROs are qualified (QDROs).

Source: Practicallaw.com, May 2013

Domestic Relations Orders

Abstract: Definition: A qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) means a domestic relations order (DRO) which creates or recognizes the existence of an alternate payee's right to (or assigns to an alternate payee the right to) receive all or a portion of the benefits payable with respect to a participant under a plan, and meets certain requirements.

Source: Retirementdictionary.com, March 2013.

The Division of Retirement Benefits Through Qualified Domestic Relations Orders

Abstract: This publication provides general information about the qualified domestic relations orders (QDROs) under the provisions of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) and the Internal Revenue Code of 1986. This booklet was prepared to provide general guidance about QDROs to employers, retirement plan administrators, participants, beneficiaries, employee benefit professionals, and domestic relations specialists.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, June 2012.

Plan Sponsor Basics on QDRO Administration

Abstract: Morgan Lewis a webinar focused on plan sponsor administration of qualified domestic relations orders (QDROs). Topics discussed included: QDRO basics, including types of benefit divisions (segregated benefits, shared payments, and plan design alternatives); Processes and procedures for QDRO administration; QDROs and nonqualified retirement plans; and, QDROs and equity compensation and other executive programs. Here are the slides from the presentation.

Source: Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, April 2012

Applying the QDROtic Equation in Qualified Plans

Abstract: The recently decided Fifth Circuit decision, Brown v. Continental Airlines, Inc., demonstrates how nine airline pilots and their spouses creatively used qualified domestic relations orders (QDROs) and state domestic relations law to circumvent the early distribution rules in their retirement plan.

Source: Fox Rothschild LLP, November 2011.

DOL Issues Final Rules on QDRO Distributions

Abstract: Because the determination of whether a domestic relations order is to be considered a "qualified" order is a fiduciary act under ERISA, article recommends that all plan sponsors review their written QDRO determination procedures and familiarize themselves with the new Rule's requirements and illustrative examples.

Source: Masuda, Funai, Eifert & Mitchell, Ltd, June 2010.

Final Department of Labor QDRO Guidance Issued

Abstract: The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has published final regulations clarifying the rights and obligations of parties seeking to obtain benefits from certain retirement plans under qualified domestic relations orders (QDROs).

Source: Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, June 2010.

DOL Releases Final Regulations Relating To Time and Order of QDROs

Abstract: The regulations, which are effective July 30, 2010, are substantially similar to the interim final rule issued in 2007, but several changes were made to the examples given, and one additional example was added.

Source: Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP, June 2010.


Abstract: When you need to transfer an interest in a qualified retirement plan, you'll need to use a QDRO, a Qualified Domestic Relations Order. A short item on QDRO Must Have's, Must Not's, Lawyer Issues, and Issues For You.

Source: Divorceinfo.com.

Seven Key Questions You Need to Ask Before Your Divorce is Finalized

Abstract: To make an intelligent decision on how to divide a pension, find out what kind of pension it is, how it is funded, how it pays out, and ask these seven key questions before your divorce is finalized.

Source: Women's Institute for a Secure Retirement.

Deferred Compensation, Retirement Plans & Divorce

Abstract: Deferred compensation refers to pension plans, 401k plans, IRAs and other retirement assets. Such plans are divisible as part of a property settlement in divorce regardless of which party is named on the plan. How they are divided depends on the value and nature of the asset.

Source: Freeadvice.com.

401khelpcenter.com, LLC is not the author of the material referenced in this digest unless specifically noted. The material referenced was created, published, maintained, or otherwise posted by institutions or organizations independent of 401khelpcenter.com, LLC. 401khelpcenter.com, LLC does not endorse, approve, certify, or control this material and does not guarantee or assume responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, efficacy, or timeliness of the material. Use of any information obtained from this material is voluntary, and reliance on it should only be undertaken after an independent review of its accuracy, completeness, efficacy, and timeliness. Reference to any specific commercial product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, service mark, manufacturer, or otherwise does not constitute or imply endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by 401khelpcenter.com, LLC.

About | Glossary | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Contact Us

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.