People who divorce and have been putting money aside in a retirement plan may be surprised to learn that dividing these familiar retirement saving accounts can be very challenging. In most cases, the Court will need to enter Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO), an Order separate from your divorce decree that is required divide the money or split the accounts. In most cases, it is the last item to be completed in your divorce.
Realizing too late that you need a QDRO can be catastrophic and irreversible. Imagine learning years after your divorce that the retirement money that you were awarded has been spent by your Former Spouse. A QDRO will not take care of itself.
A QDRO is not a “form”, but a Court Order that should be prepared by an attorney licensed in your State. Many lawyers are uncomfortable preparing a QDRO because they are difficult, technical. and have specific requirements set forth by the administers of the plan. Nothing is “standard” with retirement accounts or retirement plans. Each Plan Administrator has its own rules and regulations. Each account needs its own Court Order even if they have the same Plan Administrator
A simple “form” service will not and cannot offer you legal advice. We are a law firm. We only practice in the state of Florida with a licensed family law attorney, Christian D. Smed. We assist with your legal issues surrounding your QDRO and ensure that benefits are appropriately secured. The flat fee cost for the preparation of a QDRO by our attorney can range from $600.00 to $1,200.00 for each account (See Services Included) Discounts are offered to military members, veterans, first responders, teachers, government employees, and for multiply orders.
A QDRO must go through approval by the parties, the judge and the plan administrator. The total time to complete a QDRO is difficult to predict, even with the simplest of plans. A huge challenge if you are not represented by an attorney who will perform all of these tasks on your behalf.
The earlier you have the QDRO prepared, the better. It can be hard to obtain the information about the accounts if it is several years after the divorce.
The plan administrator has the final say. The plan administrator sets various rules and procedures to process the Order. If you don't follow their rules, it may cause a delay in receiving your money.
Whether or not your final divorce decree addresses certain issues, they still may need to be addressed in the QDRO. For example, how is a loan handled when the money is divided, do you receive interest on the money, who needs to provide the documents related to the value of the QDRO, what day should the money be divided, who will pay the costs for the QDRO. If your QDRO requires additional litigation, we are available to provide to these additional legal services.
Lastly, it takes time. Each plan has a designated time-frame to process the QDRO, which can vary from anywhere from 30 to 90 days. It is important to begin the process of dividing the money and accounts as soon as possible.
If additional litigation is needed to resolve outstanding issues related to your QDRO, we are available to provide to these additional legal services in the State of Florida at our hourly rate.