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What should be included in a QDRO?

If you are getting a divorce, one of the things you may need to deal with is a qualified domestic relations order. This is also known as a QDRO. A QDRO is a court-ordered judgment that tells a retirement plan to pay for a former spouse's child support, marital property rights or alimony. Essentially, it is the order that shows how to divide retirement benefits. This order is delivered to the companies that hold the retirement funds for distribution.

The QDRO must have a few important statements in it for it to be valid. A QDRO will include information such as:

  • The last known mailing address of alternative payees, if known
  • The total amount of benefits paid to -- or the percentage of benefits that should be paid to -- the alternate payee upon request
  • The number of payments that have to be made under the QDRO or the time period for which it is valid
  • The names of the plans that the QDRO applies to
  • Alternative payee information, including addresses, if there are any other than the ex-spouse

The QDRO can only ask for awards up to the amount of the benefits allowed with the plan. The former spouse then reports those payments as if they had received the benefits as a plan participant. Your ex-spouse will only receive distributions proportional to their fair share of the plan's benefits.

Our site has more on what you can do if you would like to receive retirement benefits after divorce or if you have retirement benefits that need to be divided with the use of a QDRO court order.

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