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Fort, Holloway & Rogers Your FUTURE, Your Way
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Do I Need A QDRO For My Divorce?


In most divorce cases, one significant category of assets divided between spouses are the retirement plans. Retirement and pension plans can vary substantially, and certain types of plans require a separate order as part of the finalized divorce settlement that is known as a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO). At Fort, Holloway, & Rogers our experienced Franklin divorce lawyers can help determine whether this is required for your case. To learn more, call or contact our office today to schedule a consultation.

What Retirement Plans Need a QDRO?

Retirement plans that fall under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) require a QDRO in a divorce. These types of plans are protected by ERISA so that only the participant, or person collecting retirement, can access the funds unless a court order says otherwise. Accounts protected by ERISA include a 401(k), 403(b), and similar plans but not an IRA. The qualified domestic relations order recognizes the right of an alternate payee to access some or all of the funds in an ERISA-protected retirement account.

How to Split Retirement Accounts

In a divorce, the couple must determine whether to split retirement account benefits. If the retirement savings has been relatively equal between spouses, they may elect to keep their respective retirement accounts and split the rest of the marital assets equitably. However, if one spouse has accumulated significantly more in retirement savings or has more retirement accounts than the other spouse an allocation may be made between them. If retirement accounts are split, the next step is determining which accounts will be divided and to what extent.

If those accounts are protected by ERISA, an attorney must complete and file a QDRO as part of the finalized settlement. A QDRO must contain the names of the participant and the alternate payee, their last mailing addresses, and the amount or percentage of each ERISA-protected account that will be paid to an alternate payee. One benefit of allocating retirement funds that require a QDRO is that the alternate payee spouse is allowed to roll their allocation into another retirement fund without incurring penalties and tax-free.

Hiring a qualified divorce attorney is critically important if you believe that splitting retirement accounts might necessitate a QDRO. If a spouse fails to file a QDRO as part of their finalized divorce settlement or files this order incorrectly, they will be unable to access the funds in those accounts even if it was agreed upon in the divorce decree. To learn more about qualified domestic relations orders and whether it may be required for your case, talk to our office today.

Call or Contact Fort, Holloway, & Rogers

Have you decided to file for divorce in Williamson County? If so, the experienced and knowledgeable divorce lawyers at Fort, Holloway, & Rogers are prepared to provide top tier legal representation at every step of the case. To learn more, call the office or contact us today to schedule a consultation.


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