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What is a qualified domestic relations order?

If you are getting a divorce in Florida, you may be required to get a qualified domestic relations order. A QDRO is specifically important if you or spouse has a retirement plan that needs to be divided because, according to the United States Department of Labor, they cannot be otherwise settled in a divorce unless by a QDRO. This order dictates an alternative payee, which is a person other than the person whose name the retirement plan is in, who can receive payments from a retirement plan.

For an order to become a QDRO, it must include specific information that outlines the number of payments with the dollar amount or percentages. It must also include the name of each plan and the names and addresses of all participants. In addition, it cannot conflict with another QDRO, offer benefits that increase, offer benefits not already offered under the plan or pay a qualified joint or survival annuity for the lives of the payee and spouse.

When you get a divorce, the state court will issue a domestic relations order. This usually will cover the division of property and dictate child support and/or spousal support. It is important that an order is issued by a court and not just signed by the parties involved. A domestic relations order does not automatically become a QDRO, though.

Federal law states that a domestic relations order can only be judged to be a QDRO by the person responsible for administering the retirement plan. Any challenges you may have to the ruling can only be handled by a federal court. This information is only intended to educate and should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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