The preparation, filing and approval of a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) take time and special care for details. Here are the basic steps of completing a QDRO from start to finish:
- Gathering information. You need information about both spouses, including names, addresses, Social Security numbers, dates of marriage and divorce, etc. This includes copies of the divorce decree or separation agreement, in order to determine the share going to each party.
- Drafting your QDRO. Depending on the Plan, the domestic relations order may have a variety of names; however, the different types of orders are basically similar to each other with some significant differences. All of them are informally referred to as QDROs, even when they are technically called something else.
- Approval by the other party. The draft of the QDRO is sent to the spouse or his or her attorney for review and approval. The other party should accept the QDRO, if it accurately reflects the parties’ agreement.
- Approval by Plan as draft. The draft of the QDRO is then sent to the pension Plan Administrator for approval. The Plan Administrator may request changes in the draft QDRO. If the Plan Administrator requests any changes in the QDRO, those changes are made to meet the Plans’ expectations or requirements. It is not unusual for the Plan Administrator to request changes in QDROs; in fact, this happens about half the time.
- Signature of QDRO by Judge. Once the QDRO has been approved in draft form, both parties sign it, and it is presented to the Court for signature by a Judge.
- Obtain a certified copy of the QDRO. Once the judge signs the QDRO, the alternate payee should obtain several certified copies of the QDRO. A certified copy is one that bears the original signature and seal of the clerk of the court. A certified copy usually may be obtained from the clerk of the court. A certified copy is sent to the Plan Administrator for final approval, acceptance, and payment.
- Final acceptance by the plan. Final approval happens very quickly, especially if the
lan has already reviewed the QDRO as a draft. p