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What Is a Qualified Domestic Relations Order?


A Qualified Domestic Relations Order, or QRDO, is a court order that specifies how retirement funds are to be distributed during the divorce process. Many people forget that retirement funds are part of their marital community property. Once a couple comes to an agreement regarding the distribution of their marital assets, a QDRO is issued alongside the marital settlement agreement. This legal document can transfer retirement assets and pensions without accruing taxes or penalties.


  • Serves as an instruction manual to the administrator of the retirement plan
  • Determines how the retirement account should be divided
  • States how and when these payments will be issued to a former spouse
  • Explains how the tax consequences should be handled

A valid QDRO needs to contain specific information, including: the name and mailing address of the participant, the name and address of the receiving party, the Social Security numbers of both parties, the name of each retirement plan, the amount being paid to the receiving party, and other essential provisions.

There are many complex laws and regulations governing the division of retirement plans. In fact, many family lawyers refer clients to forensic accounts or attorneys who specialize in QDROs. After the representative calculates the value of the retirement account, the lawyer can create an order for the judge to approve. The court can also issue a QDRO even if the spouses can’t come to an agreement on the matter.

A QDRO can divide these types of retirement plans:

  • 401(k) plans
  • 403(b) plans
  • 457 plans
  • Thrift plans
  • Employee stock ownership plans
  • Profit-sharing plans
  • Pension plans
  • Define benefit plans
  • money purchase plans
  • Tax-sheltered Annuities

However, not all retirement plans necessitate the creation of a QDRO:

  • Individual Retirement Accounts (“IRA”)
  • Government Retirement Plans
  • Deferred Annuities

A spouse can choose to deposit their share into an IRA or receive the payment in a lump sum amount.

Have Questions? Schedule a Consultation Today

Contact the Fresno divorce lawyers at Arnold Law Group, APC if you have questions or concerns about Qualified Domestic Relations Orders. Our attorneys can review your marital estate and thoroughly explain your legal options. With our help, you can negotiate a comprehensive marital settlement agreement that prepares you for the next chapter of your life.

Call Arnold Law Group, APC at (559) 900-1263 to schedule your free consultation.

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