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Drafting the Division Language

If you are not divorced yet, it's crucial to have all benefit aspects that will be divided spelled out in your agreement. In most cases, the QDRO can only provide benefit elements that have been put in writing.

Once your divorce has been finalized, the Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) must instruct the plan to distribute the benefit in accordance with the details laid out in your stipulation, separation agreement, or judgment. Otherwise, your ex-spouse, as the participant, as well as the court, may object to the initial draft and require revisions to be made.

If you're dealing with pension divisions that require an order similar to a QDRO, you should be aware that there could be specific restrictions. For military court orders, called “Military Qualifying Court Orders,” you will need to submit your agreement along with the order, as both will undergo a review process by the military agency. If the order includes a survivor benefit or exceeds the terms agreed, it will be turned down. Hence, drafting the QDRO or other order in accordance with the agreement can save you both time and money.

What if the agreement is not clear about how to divide the benefit? Unfortunately, ambiguity in the agreement is the norm rather than the exception; but that is another reason to use an experienced QDRO Consultant to draft your order.

If an agreement is unclear or lacks instructions for handling the specific division considerations that must be addressed in a QDRO, consulting a QDRO Consultant is essential for formulating a successful strategy to obtain a fair share. Sometimes, the best strategy will require the divorce attorney to re-open the matter or seek clarification from the opposing side or the court. A QDRO Consultant with a deep understanding of these plans can offer invaluable advice, enabling you or your prior divorce attorney to take the best course of action to address and potentially resolve any issues.


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