Steps of a QDRO

1) Gather Information – In order to draft a QDRO I will need to obtain a copy of your Judgment of Divorce and Property Settlement Agreement, as these documents specify how the retirement benefits are to be divided. I will contact the pension plan to obtain information from them as to the procedures they follow when dividing benefits.

2) Draft QDRO – Once I have received the above information, I can draft the QDRO. I will forward the QDRO to you for your review with an understandable explanation of the QDROs technical language.

3) Approval of Draft by Pension Plan – Pension plans are very picky about how QDROs are prepared so a draft is sent to them for their review. It is not uncommon for the pension plan to request changes to the draft language.

4) Approval by Ex-Spouse – Although the language dividing pension benefits was agreed to in your divorce settlement, your ex-spouse must agree to the QDRO language before it is entered as a Court Order. Most of the time this step can be accomplished without a problem but sometimes disagreements occur regarding a QDRO, which can slow the process down.

5) Approval by Judge – Once the QDRO is approved by you and your ex-spouse it is forwarded to a Judge for approval by the Court. This is done by mail and a Court appearance is not necessary.

6) File a Certified Copy – Once the Judge has approved the QDRO, the original is filed in the County Clerk’s office of where the Court is located and a certified copy is obtained.

7) Final Approval by Pension Plan – The certified copy of the QDRO is forwarded to the pension plan for final approval.

How Long Does This Process Usually Take? – Generally speaking completing this process takes between 6 to 12 months. The biggest delays depend on how cooperative your ex-spouse is and the length of time it takes for the pension plan to respond to my letters to them.

More information about QDROs (United States Department of Labor)

More information about QDROs (IRS)