101 Summit, Suite 700
Fort Worth, Texas 76102
Office 817-984-7585
Fax 817-984-7589

   QDRO Preparation

 QDRO Fact Sheet
 QDRO Preparation Letter to Attorneys
 Instructions for Getting QDRO signed
 Sample Decree Language
 Sample Petition to Enter
 Thinking of Handling Your Own Divorce?

A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) is a court order used to assign all or part of a Participant’s interest in a retirement, pension, savings, 401k or similar deferred compensation plan of a current or former employer.  Usually such assignment, or division, of these retirement plans is done in connection with a division of property in a divorce case, although it can also result from spousal support or child support.

Military retirement, CSRS, FERS and the federal Thrift Savings Plan will not accept a QDRO.  Instead, these plans require a Division Order, which is very similar to a QDRO and is a separate Order from the Decree.  A Division Order must have language specific to the plan and although it may be contained within the Decree, the preferred method is to use a separate order, as with a QDRO.

Some employers have non-qualified plans and stock option plans.  The vast majority of these employers will not accept a DRO, QDRO or other division order and will not transfer a portion to a spouse upon divorce.  Please contact the employer to determine if it will accept a DRO, QDRO or other division order.

IRAs usually do not require a QDRO, however, the only way to know is for you to contact the financial institution and inquire.  They may require a copy of the Decree or Letter of Instruction instead.  Be aware that many attorney enter a QDRO for IRAs even though not required by the financial institution because of a concern with avoiding the 10% penalty associated with an early withdrawal.  The tax regulations state that the penalty does not apply when a QDRO is entered, so many CPAs advise that a QDRO be used to be safe.

Due to the unique nature of these orders, many attorneys find it more cost efficient to hire someone very familiar with QDRO preparation rather than prepare it themselves.  Although I can prepare a QDRO directly for a client (only under certain circumstances), the following information is intended only when I am hired by, and working with, another attorney.  For information on preparation of a QDRO directly for a party to a divorce, please click here.

For a flat fee of $350 per QDRO (or other division order), I will prepare a QDRO (or other dividing order), forward it to the attorney and submit the signed QDRO to the Plan for final approval.  I am an independent contractor, hired by the attorney, and I do not represent either client.  I will do my best to follow the letter and intent of the Decree of Divorce, relying upon the information supplied.  I will work through the attorney's office , not directly with the client, which allows the attorney to maintain his or her professional relationship with the client.  The attorney may be charging fees for his or her time in addition to my fee because the attorney will do work and expend time directly related to this QDRO even if I am hired to assist.  The attorney will be advising or explaining the QDRO and the Plan to the client, providing my office with required information and documents, obtaining the approval of the opposing counsel or party to the QDRO, submitting the QDRO to the Court for signature by the Judge, and providing my office with a certified copy of the QDRO.  For more detailed information on my QDRO preparation services for an attorney, please click here.

Many counties now require the filing of a Motion to Enter QDRO and payment of a filing fee when the QDRO is signed more than 30 days after the Decree of Divorce was signed, even when entry of the QDRO is agreed by the parties.  Obviously, the hiring attorney and/or client is responsible for preparation of the Motion and payment of the fee and this is not included in my $350 fee.

Many Plans now charge a fee to review a QDRO, ranging from $300 to $1,200.  Any such fees charged by a Plan are not included in my fee and must be paid separately by one or more of the parties.  Usually, the Plan's review fee will be taken by the Plan from one or more of the parties' account balance (for defined contribution plans).

n the event that some vital terms are omitted from the Decree of Divorce, I will draft the QDRO using the most common options.  If a dispute arises between the parties on the wording or options of the QDRO, the party’s attorney is responsible for resolving the problem.  Once the problem is resolved, I will prepare or revise the QDRO.  In the event that a Plan does not approve a QDRO, I will be responsible for revising the QDRO until it is accepted by the Plan, or the attorney will receive a complete refund of my fee for that QDRO.

I offer reasonably quick turnaround time for the initial preparation of QDROs.   I cannot control how long it may take a Plan to approve an Order.  The attorneys and the parties should understand that this is not a fast process; that it usually takes 2 - 3 months, at best.  My office does maintain a diary system to keep track of the approval of these orders, but we urge attorneys to also monitor since the Plan sometimes does not let me know when the order is approved.  In the event a problem arises with the Plan as to the wording of a QDRO, or the manner in which the benefit was divided, I will advise the attorney immediately.  I ask that the clients not contact my office directly other than to provide information we may need.

Please click on the following button to print out my QDRO Fact Sheet.  It will detail the information and documents I will need to prepare the QDRO.  If you have any additional questions, please give my office a call.

Also, I have provided a simple, one page Petition to Enter in the event the Court requires that a motion or petition be filed, even on agreed QDROs.