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5 Useful Facts And Information About Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (Qdro’s) In California

  • Is a QDRO Needed for all Types of Retirement Plans?

No. You don’t need a QDRO to divide Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) or deferred annuities.

  • What types of plans require a QDRO?

You will need a QDRO if you’re trying to divide the following types of plans:

-401(k), 403(b), and 457 plans

Domestic Relations Order

-Thrift plans

-Profit-sharing plans

-Money purchase plans

-Employee stock ownership plans

-Tax-sheltered annuities, and

-Business/corporate defined benefit or pension plans.

  • Will the QDRO preparer Compute the Amount Payable to the Alternate Payee?

Unless the marital settlement agreement or final judgment of divorce specifies the amount payable from the retirement plan to the alternate payee, the QDRO preparer will use a formula that instructs the plan administrator how to compute the amount payable. 

  • How is Payment Made to the Alternate Payee?

With plans that allow lump-sum distributions, alternate payees can elect to receive their share in one payment or rollover their share to an IRA or other eligible plan. Defined benefit plans and pensions generally pay benefits in monthly installments. With these types of plans, the alternate payee will typically receive monthly payments for a set period of time.

  • Who Should Prepare the QDRO?

QDROs may seem easy to prepare, especially when the spouses are cooperating with one another. Many attorneys (and non-attorneys) try to use a “one-size-fits-all” approach to drafting QDROs, or use a plan’s “model QDRO” without a full understanding of the legal and financial consequences of certain provisions. A QDRO must be drafted to meet specific legal criteria and tailored to the particular type of plan it is meant to divide. Using a generalized approach to a QDRO can result in an incorrect division of benefits, the loss of important rights under a plan, and a total or partial loss of benefits upon the death of the participant.

The rules governing QDRO’s and retirement plans are complex and constantly changing, which is why it is important to choose a QDRO preparer who specializes in QDRO preparation. 

Wondering about how to handle your QDRO needs? Our office is available to help. Let’s discuss your case. To schedule a consultation with the Law Office of Rebecca Medina today, call 559-324-5427 in Fresno or 858-285-4315 in San Diego, or visit us online at

Rebecca MedinaAbout the Author: Rebecca Medina

Rebecca Medina is an experienced Family Law attorney, mediator and Collaborative Divorce Lawyer serving the Fresno and San Diego areas. She handles cases ranging from complex divorce matters to child custody, spousal support, prenuptial/postnuptial agreements, QDROs and uncontested divorce cases. She was rated “Clients’ Choice” by Avvo.

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