How Can I Get My Share of My Ex-Spouse’s Retirement Plan?

A huge portion of the divorce process is devoted to splitting up assets that were shared by the married couple. These include physical property, like houses and cars, but also the literal money earned and shared during the marriage. Much of the divorce process seeks to put the two spouses on equal footing following the divorce: requiring child support so both parents are financially providing for their child and alimony so that any income gaps between the spouses are smoothed over.

One asset that is not automatically divided up during the divorce process is a retirement plan. For most working Americans, a retirement plan is their eventual lifeline. Even though it is not money at your disposal currently, you are constantly funding it and depending on it to provide for you late in life. Many married couples share a retirement plan, but since it is not current assets in their bank account, they are not automatically divided and distributed in a divorce. Enter the QDRO.

A Qualified Domestic Relations Order, commonly abbreviated as a QDRO, is a court order that dictates a portion of a retirement plan be assigned to someone else in the wake of a divorce. They are intended to make sure that both spouses’ futures are still cared for even following their divorce.

Here’s the most important thing to remember about QDROs: they do not happen automatically. So many people think that they are entitled to receive their share of a retirement plan and just assume that it happens during a divorce. It is an entirely separate court order from a divorce. It can only happen after a divorce is finalized, it must be signed by a judge, it necessitates the help of a lawyer, and it will only happen if you begin the process yourself.

Once you speak with a lawyer to begin the QDRO process, the next step depends on the options available from the administrator of the retirement plan. With some administrators, like Fidelity, you can create an order directly on their website. Others are more difficult. The final QDRO order must be signed by both parties, a council, the Judge, and the financial administrator of the account. The process can be fairly quick, ranging from six months to a year or so. The process of military spouses is different, since they do not receive disability pay.

Once you have a signed Judgement of Divorce entered, you can begin the QDRO process. If you are ready to get your share of a retirement plan, contact Andrea L. Gamalski Attorney & Counselor at Law today! We know the ins and outs of the QDRO process. We believe in caring for you, so you can care for your family and home!

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Andrea L. Gamalski Attorneys at Law

Andrea L. Gamalski understands how important it is to have a compassionate and empathetic family law attorney who fights hard for their clients in the courtroom–mainly because she’s been one of these clients herself.

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